Campus Connections is a 12-week program, one evening per week, which offers one-on-one mentoring for youth in need of a constructive and supportive community.
Our program engages approximately 250 youth and 300 CSU students each year.
Our structured mentoring program aims to:
- Promote the resilience and life success of at-risk youth through strengthening social bonds, increasing academic engagement and performance, decreasing substance use and delinquency, and improving sense of self.
- Prepare university students to become highly skilled, civically engaged human service professional and community leaders.
- Respond to community initiatives to strengthen community systems to better serve at-risk youth and their families.
Youth in Campus Connections
Youth in Campus Connections are referred from the juvenile justice system, schools, social service agencies, and directly from families. We specifically recruit youth for Campus Connections who are at-risk for not reaching their full potential due to poverty, involvement in the court system, academic failure, and other barriers.
Our results have revealed positive outcomes for the youth, including:
- More regular school attendance
- Reduced alcohol and marijuana use
- Fewer problem behaviors at school and home
- Improved attitudes about substance use and problem behaviors
- Enhanced emotional well-being (increased happiness and sense that they matter, and a decrease in loneliness)
What Makes Campus Connections Unique?
- Campus Connections takes place on a university campus, providing mentees with firsthand experience and a view of higher education as both important and attainable.
- Graduate students and experienced mentors serve as mentor coaches, who provide support and guidance to mentors and mentees.
- Faculty members use their expertise in systemic and therapeutic interventions to create an evidence-based program.
- Ongoing research provides feedback for program enhancements to maximize effectiveness.
- Support to youth mentees and their families is provided through parent education, community resource referrals, crisis interventions, and therapy services.
Structure of Campus Connections
Campus Connections uses a family systems approach to create a mentoring community. Each mentor-mentee pair is nested within a small mentoring group, known as a Mentor Family, where the youth are of similar ages. This unique feature of Campus Connections allows youth to positively interact with their peers while benefiting from interactions with their primary adult mentor and the community of caring adults within their Mentor Family.
Campus Connections Schedule
Pre-Lab / 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Pre-lab is a time for our mentors to have the opportunity to meet with their lab instructor, mentor coaches, as well as fellow mentors and discuss the upcoming evening. During this time, weekly readings are integrated into preparation for the night to come. In addition, mentor families take turns supervising the Early Arrival Room for youth who arrive at Campus Connections prior to 3:45 p.m.
Walk and Talk / 4:30-5 p.m.
Walk and Talk is a half-hour walk that takes place immediately after youth arrive. Mentor families “tour the campus” on walks to different buildings on campus. This is a time for our mentors to build strong relationships with their mentees as well as for mentees to get outside and explore everything that a college campus has to offer.
Supporting School Success / 5-6 p.m.
Supporting School Success is an important part of Campus Connections because it is one-on-one time that the youth get with their mentor to focus on school. During this time, mentees can work on anything from homework and time management skills to building a resume or filling out college applications. In the past we have visited fire stations, brought in military recruiters, visited different departments on campus, as well as other career building activities. During this hour, mentees may also participate in Job Readiness Workshops. A representative from the Workforce of Larimer County comes during this hour to teach youth how to fill out job applications, write a resume, search for jobs, and talk to potential employers. Other specialized academic and professional skill-building activities are sometimes offered during this time as well.
Dinner / 6-6:30 p.m.
Dinner is provided by the Larimer County Food Bank every week free-of-charge for the youth and for a nominal fee to mentors. Mentor families eat as a “family” and create a healthy dinner atmosphere for the youth.
Pro-Social Activities / 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Each week our mentors lead and participate in a different activity for the youth. These activities are meant to be pro-social and encourage positive recreation and interactions between everyone involved. Activities change week to week because the mentors take turns facilitating activities for the youth. In the past, activities have included a variety of sports, cooking, arts and crafts, music, and dancing.
Post-Lab / 8:30-9:30 p.m.
Post-Lab is time for our mentors to meet with their lab instructor, mentor coaches, and fellow mentors and debrief about the night. This is an open forum to discuss success stories as well as possible problems from the evening. Mentors are also allotted time to complete their weekly journals.