Sandy Springs-based nonprofit Campus Community Partnership Foundation is on a mission to get more students engaged in their education and inspired to stay in school.
By bringing at-risk youth to Georgia Institute of Technology in Midtown for a walk around campus and academic and career-focused breakout sessions, the third annual Carolyn Young Mentor Walk aims to do just that.
“The most pressing issue in Georgia right now is the dropout rate,” said Kashi Sehgal, program director for the Mentor Walk set for Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Georgia’s high school graduation rate remains a critical issue throughout the state, with only 69 percent of students throughout the state graduating on time in 2012, according to the Georgia Department of Education. Though that’s a two-point increase over 2011 graduation numbers, the state still ranks among the lowest nationally.
Named after Ambassador Andrew Young’s wife who sits on the foundation’s board, the event introduces mostly middle and high school students to college life by grouping them with mentors from post-secondary institutions as well as 150 employee volunteers from Accenture. New additions to the event this year include small group coaching sessions on higher education, job skills and financial literacy.
Anyone looking to support students is welcome to attend, Sehgal said.
“What we need more than anything else is walkers,” she said. “We have 1,000 kids coming to walk this year. We want to show them the community is behind them and their education. The way to do that is to have as many adults as possible participate in the walk.”
Sehgal, a graduate of the Lovett School in Buckhead, said her favorite part of participating each year is when the idea of attending college really clicks with students.
“One year, a group of at-risk girls came to the walk and were really unhappy about things and getting there that early on a Saturday,” she said, “By the end of the day, they didn’t want to leave. They were excited to see the dorms, the cafeteria, the campus. That just kind of makes you feel good.”
Sehgal said students from Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools and Fulton County Schools are expected to attend, along with several area Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops and other youth groups.
Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson gave his full support of the event and said he was excited to have so many students visit the campus.
“Part of our responsibility as an institution is introducing young people to the exciting possibilities of continuing their education in order to help them reach their full potential, while at the same time creating a more educated workforce in Georgia,” Peterson said in a statement.
Parents are encouraged to attend and participate in the walk and breakout sessions separate led by Deloitte. They will hear from DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond and discuss education-related topics.
If you go:
What: Carolyn Young Mentor Walk
When: Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Georgia Institute of Technology, 225 North Ave., Midtown
Cost: $25 for adults; free for high-school and middle-school students; includes breakfast, lunch and T-shirt; online registration required
Benefits: Campus Community Partnership Foundation