Programs aimed at pairing kids with mentors, many of which are in Rutland County, received more than $300,000 from MENTOR Vermont.

According to Benji Thurber, communications director for MENTOR Vermont, the group administers the “Vermont Mentoring Grants,” money for which comes primarily from the state Agency of Human Services, the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children. It has awarded 29 grants totaling $310,300 to Vermont mentoring programs.

Four grants went to groups that serve Rutland County.

The DREAM program

The DREAM Program serves all of Vermont, according to its program director, Mel Hurlbut. In Rutland County, the group works with Green Mountain College and Poultney to pair low-income kids with college-age mentors. Hurlbut said the goal behind making these connections is to get children to see attending college as a possibility.

According to Thurber, DREAM was awarded $23,000 towards its statewide efforts.

Hurlburt said the way the program normally works is that it finds a college and partners students there with kids from low-income housing developments. Often, she said, children from low-income housing aren’t aware of the opportunities available to them. Pairing them with people in college who will bring them to campus, libraries, museums and similar places helps put higher education into their minds. The program also works to connect these students with people who can guide them on getting financial aid.

In Poultney, children from anywhere in town qualify for a DREAM mentor, said Kayla Daughtry, program empowerment director for the DREAM Program. The program finds kids to mentor through the local school system rather than a housing authority. Daughtry said there’s a core group of seven kids involved. She said it’s harder to find kids to mentor than it is to find mentors themselves.

Other awards

Everybody Wins! is another statewide mentoring group. It was awarded $45,300, Thurber said. It has a literacy mentoring program that operates at Neshobe School in Brandon and Rutland Intermediate School on Library Avenue.

Another awardee was the Mentor Connector, which serves Rutland County. It was awarded $26,000.

“The support of MENTOR Vermont is essential to providing ongoing support for mentor matches across Rutland County,” said Chris Hultquist, executive director of the Mentor Connector, in a statement. “Each year, we provide highly trained and supported mentors to hundreds of young people across the county. This support would be severely limited if not for the ongoing support and guidance of MENTOR Vermont.”

Another grant for $4,000 went to the Safer Society Foundation in support of the New Circle program, which provides mentors to children in Rutland and Addison counties who have an incarcerated family member.

keith.whitcomb @rutlandherald.com

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