JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Communities In Schools, a non-profit origination, has reached into local public schools to make a difference. The agency has several approaches including mentoring and its In School Support program.
Mentoring often seems like a challenge until the participant gets involved.
The CIS program targets sixth graders, a high risk group according to CIS.
Broderick Green is a first year mentor at Matthew Gilbert Middle School.
"My experience has been a learning one," said Green.
Green, who has a two-year-old son and travels a lot, said he always wanted to give back but did not consider mentoring until now.
"I wanted to find a way to give back," said Green. "When I was younger I had people who mentored me in an unofficial capacity."
Green knows the strength of a one-on-one relationship, but he was concerned about the time commitment.
"I travel a little bit [for my job]," said Green. "But the flexibility is there."
He mentors 12-year-old Joshua at Gilbert Middle.
Joshua said once he heard he was being paired with a mentor, it changed his outlook.
"It was a very exciting feeling, knowing what he looks like, what we will talk about," said Joshua.
To help break the ice they talked about sports, travel and how to improve his grades. And now the power of their growing relationship is showing.
"As long as he wants to keep me around I do look forward to keeping it going," said Green.
The sixth grader has improved and now looks towards his future.
"I want a good Job. I want to go to a good school, where I can get my a degree," Joshua said.
The two will tell you that mentoring works.
CIS also offers an in school program. At Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology, MaryAnn Foster is the site coordinator.
"We are trying to stabilize students at risk of falling behind or not being able to graduate," said Foster.
Foster is an advocate for students and her case load involves 106 students.
"On a typical day I'll have a student come to me and say 'Ms. Foster there wasn't anything at home to eat and I'm really hungry and I'm having trouble concentrating in class'," said Foster.
So some students make a PB&J sandwich in her office before heading back to class.
Foster said she is there to listen, advise and assist students like Starr.
"Starr is focused on graduating in a couple of weeks,' said Foster.
Two years ago, when Starr was pregnant and struggling with life, she became one of Foster's cases.
"It was really scary," said Starr.
Starr said it was the CIS In School Support Program that made a difference in her life when she needed some direction.
"If I needed a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to she was there for me," said Starr. "I talked to her about everything."
And she means everything.
Starr said they talked about everything from academics and baby diapers. As a result, Starr is now an A/B honor roll student.
"I'm finishing high school because Mrs. Foster helped me with everything," said Starr.
Foster has been at Frank H Peterson CIS program two years and is pleased with its accomplishments.
(CORRECTION 5/29/13: Foster has been at Frank H Peterson CIS Program for 9 years.)
"This year actually I have 65 seniors on my case load and they're all graduating," said Foster.
Foster said it is students like Starr that keep her going.
"I'm glad that she was here for me If she wasn't I don't know what I would do honestly," said Starr. "I would be lost."
First Coast News