North Texas Daily

Denton launches mentoring program

Denton launches mentoring program

Denton launches mentoring program
September 03
07:59 2013

Javier Navarro / Intern

The city of Denton is collaborating with UNT and other Denton organizations to begin a program that hopes to impact the lives of at-risk students.

Mentor Denton is a recently launched program where volunteers dedicate one hour a week throughout the school year mentoring at-risk students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Students who are identified as “at-risk” include those who suffer from behavioral and academic issues, as well as those coming from low-income families, city council member Kevin Roden said.

“The success of public schools is everyone’s responsibility,” Roden said. “We’re asking the community to step up, pitch in and help the schools connect with the kids who need it the most.”

The program started when a recent United Way of Denton County Needs Assessment acknowledged that about 10,000 students attending schools in Denton Independent School District are considered at-risk of failing or dropping out of school.

“Regardless of the issue, we believe all of them can reach their full potential if we give them a chance,” Roden said. “These are great kids who deserve a fighting chance.”

Last fall during the annual Town and Gown gathering of UNT, city, school, business and other community leaders, the UNT President’s Community of Engagement Council brought the issue onto the table and discussed ways to try to help and solve this issue.

That’s when the Mentor Denton program was ultimately created.

The first goal for the program is to reach 1,000 mentors this year, and part of that goal is to get UNT students to volunteer.

As of Aug. 31 Mentor Denton had 667 mentors signed up for this year, according to the program’s Facebook page.

“We hope to get 500 from UNT and 500 from the community at large,” Roden said. “It seems to me that with 36,000 students at UNT, there is a very large untapped volunteer base that is just waiting to be activated.”

UNT’s Center for Leadership and Service is helping volunteers sign up and train for the program, as well as helping spread the word to the community, the center’s director Amy Simon said.

“We’ve got access to folks, we’ll help spread the word and host all these trainings here and try get the word out to anybody who wants to mentor,” Simon said. “It could be students, faculty staff, community folks, whoever can make that commitment.”

Volunteers who sign up have to attend a 1-hour training session, and from there they work with Communities in Schools of North Texas to figure out the time and school that best fit their schedule, Simon said.

She also said that the closest schools are within a mile of the campus, so the program doesn’t restrict those students who don’t have access to a car.

“If students don’t even have transportation, they can get there,” Simon said. “Calhoun Middle School is really close, Denton High School is really close, so folks can get there.”

Music education senior Laura Grentz is beginning her second year volunteering in the program.

“It’s really cool because you get to meet with them weekly and just see how their weeks are,” Grentz said. “Through that they get to see that you care.”

Grentz said that while in high school, she was a single parent and had family issues going on in her life and almost didn’t make it into college.

While she didn’t have her own personal mentor, she got help from teachers and fellow students.

“People that invested in me during school were a big deal and because of that I was able get into college and have a hope and a dream,” Grentz said.

Roden said that the school district is excited about the program getting extra help from the community.

The ultimate goal for the program is to reach 10,000 mentors beginning in the fall of 2015.

The program is currently still accepting applications and offering training at UNT through September and hopes to officially get mentors out later in the fall.

More information on how to become a mentor can be found at

Feature graphic by Fey Sandoval / Staff Photographer 

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1 Comment

  1. Tex
    Tex November 29, 07:33

    I would love to be a mentoring some one, it help me.

    Reply to this comment

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