Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $499,838)
Founded in 1993, SOS Outreach (SOS) supports target youth who are at risk for delinquency and mental health issues because of circumstance (poverty, race/ethnicity) and individual and behavioral risks (e.g. bullying, low self-esteem, anxiety) to introduce them to the life skills needed to self-regulate and make positive decisions to avoid negative behaviors. Using a group mentoring approach set in the outdoors, SOS has engaged more than 80,000 youth and 3,000 mentors since its inception and maintains a strong mentoring reputation and tenure across four states: Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. Targeted sites for mentor expansion include Summit County, UT and Routt & Moffat Counties, CO, where SOS will double existing mentoring participation; with incremental growth across remaining locations (Denver, Eagle, Lake, La Plata and Summit Counties in CO, North Lake Tahoe, CA/NV and South Lake Tahoe, CA)
SOS’ mentoring goals are to improve outcomes for at-risk youth and reduce negative outcomes. To achieve, SOS will 1) expand existing progressive group mentoring services to increase the number of youth (ages 8-17) receiving group mentoring services to 2,860 youth; 2) increase the number of well-trained mentors to 740 adult mentors; and, 3) develop and implement program design enhancements identified in the National Quality Mentoring System assessment that further align with research and evidence on effective mentoring approaches in four of the six core standards: recruitment, screening, training, and monitoring and support.
As detailed in narrative and timeline, all enhancements will be completed both internally with technical assistance and outside funding, and externally by nationally recognized experts, Drs. Carla Herrera and Samuel McQuillin, who have both committed to assist upon the successful award. Key activities include: formalization of mentor recruitment plan to track referral sources, innovation in parent orientations, robust multi-year mentor training program development, ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings for staff/mentors, cross-agency integration of all curriculum-led communications including Spanish translation of all newly created enhancements to ensure robust communication strategies with participant families, and review of existing mentoring outcome survey instrument.
Progress towards goals and objectives will be tracked monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, and annually for continuous monitoring and project improvement. Outcome measures include an increased sense of purpose and belonging, demonstrated resilience through use of social emotional learning skills, and the ability to make ethical decisions through use of SOS core values (courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, compassion, humility).