Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,500,000)
The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) will enhance the delivery of high-tech career-focused mentoring to 990 youth with disabilities ages 12–17 who are at-risk of court-involvement by formalizing all six core standards of mentoring practice, enhancing training, and promoting family engagement. The RAMP model will be used across 11 multi-state sites to establish standards of practice and promote effective strategies. The sites are located in 11 states (CO, FL, GA, IL, MD, MI, MN, NJ, NM, PA, and TX) and they represent rural and urban communities with high rates of poverty, disability, and unemployment and low rates of graduation. All sites will enroll youth with physical, mental health, and developmental disabilities. The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) will leverage its networks including the Coalition for Community Schools, Family and Community Engagement, the Appalachian rural education, and apply community-driven approaches to reach a wide diversity of youth at sites. IEL designed the RAMP model using evidence-based approaches from the Guideposts for Success for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System framework, Paving the Way to Work mentoring guide, and lessons learned from previous RAMP implementation. RAMP sites apply this model to provide one-to-one, peer, and group mentoring; individualized mentoring plans; peer-supported goal setting sessions; and weekly career-focused group meetings. In the proposed initiative, RAMP sites will continue to build the capacity of youth, mentors, families, and communities by enhancing two areas: training for mentors and mentees and engaging families. Sites will strengthen their training for mentors, mentees, and families in adolescent development, relationship-building, boundaries, career development, and STEM. To increase community capacity, leadership development training will be provided for all stakeholders, including law enforcement. To increase family engagement, sites will use the evidence-based Dual-Strategy Framework developed by IEL and Harvard University. The RAMP project will increase the number of youth who are matched with trained mentors, remain in school, and avoid arrest. Site staff will work with youth to co-develop individualized mentoring plans and transition plans for work and postsecondary education. Short-term and intermediate outcomes will include documentation of: number of mentors recruited, trained, and matched; number of youth with disabilities recruited, matched, and completing career exploration activities and interest assessments; number of individualized mentoring plans completed and individual goals met; number, participation, and quality of trainings; number of family members contacted and actively engaged in program events; and number of youth remaining in school and avoiding arrest or recidivism.