RPS expands mentorship program for girls of color

Updated: Sep. 11, 2019 at 7:04 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools are doing all they can to make sure no child is left behind.

This school year, RPS is expanding its mentorship initiative for girls of color to help develop their voices.

“We are super excited about our strategic plan,” RPS chief engagement officer Dr. Shadae Harris said.

For years, RPS has always aimed to have the child’s best interest in mind, but this year it is stepping it up a notch by engaging members of the community.

“We believe that all of our students have unique talents, gifts and skills,” Harris said. “We held over about 170 meetings in the community, had thousands of people engaged and we actually heard from the community that this is a need.”

In an effort to uplift the students, RPS is partnering with “Girls For A Change,” a nonprofit youth development organization aimed at empowering girls.

“We can provide opportunities for young girls of color to see themselves reflected in leadership and different areas across our community,” Harris said.

The expansion of Girls For A Change is also joined with of “Brothers United,” RPS’ city-wide mentoring initiative that was already in place for boys of color.

“At Richmond Public Schools, we don’t see our kids as risk, but as rewards,” Harris said.

Last year, the mentorship program was only featured at one school with 10 students, but this year, the number has increased to 15 schools with 150 students.

“What I’m excited about is that they will decide what they will focus on and what’s important to them,” Harris said.

RPS officials say they hope giving students a healthy relationship will reflect positive outcomes.

“Oprah Winfrey once said that having a mentor is like having someone see the hope inside of you,” Harris said.

Among the schools participating are Albert Hill, Binford, Boushall, Elkhardt-Thompson and Martin Luther King, Jr. middle schools and Armstrong, Huguenot, John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson high schools.

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