Campus Connections is a powerful campus-based therapeutic mentoring program for youth, ages 10-18, who are at risk for not reaching their full potential. In our program, youth are paired in one-on-one mentoring relationships with undergraduate Colorado State University students and together they participate in a structured and engaging weekly program. Youth mentees can meet with a therapist throughout the program to get additional support, work on accomplishing goals, and address other therapeutic needs. Youth are empowered to select their mentor, choose the activities they participate in, set goals for themselves, and seek support through family therapists.
A goal of Campus Connections is to promote the resilience and life success of youth who have experienced adversity through strengthening social bonds, increasing academic engagement and performance, decreasing substance use and delinquency, and improving sense of self.
We specifically recruit youth for Campus Connections who are at-risk for not reaching their full potential due to:
- Living in poverty
- Involvement in the court system
- Academic challenges
- Family struggles
- Behavioral issues
- Emotional or mental health issues
- Abuse, neglect, or trauma experience
- Drug or alcohol use
Campus Connections Schedule
Each time youth meet with mentors they will be familiarized to the college atmosphere and vast opportunities college provides with weekly walks around campus. Through art projects, cooking classes, sports, dance, yoga, and more, our goal is to equip youth with niches, hobbies, and skills which prepare them to give back to the community, while growing in personal confidence.
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 brought in military recruiters, visited different departments on campus, as well as other career-building activities. During this hour, mentees can also get support 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.
What makes Campus Connections unique from other mentoring programs?
- Takes place on a university campus, providing mentees with firsthand experience and a view of higher education as important and attainable.
- Integrated mental health therapy services for youth (and guardians/families). Campus Connections has the structure and therapeutic staff to address mentees’ mental health and behavior issues that are beyond the scope of traditional mentorship programs.
- Meaningful connections and support for the youth’s guardians/families.
- Close collaboration with local community partners including referring agencies.
- Graduate students and experienced mentors serve as mentor coaches, who provide support and guidance to mentors and mentees.
- Faculty members with expertise in systemic and therapeutic interventions to create this unique and effective program.
- Ongoing research provides feedback for program enhancements to maximize effectiveness and furthers national mentoring initiatives.
- Parent education, community resource referral, emergency intervention, and therapy services surround mentees and their families in support.
- Mentor-mentee pairs are organized into small groups called mentor families. Mentor families are an integral part of the larger mentoring community each evening at Campus Connections.
Not only do we provide mentoring and therapeutic services for our mentees, we also provide services for mentee families that support their child’s success in our program.
- Hour-long intake appointment with youth and parent/guardian
- Weekly reminder calls before Campus Connections
- Weekly Progress Reports after Campus Connections
- Outreach calls from Family Therapist to all parents/guardians
- Additional phone/in person contact as needed for clinical concerns
- Family therapy interventions as needed
- Families participate in graduation
- Parent support and education
- Ongoing family therapy available through Center for Family and Couple Therapy
Referral and Intake
Once a youth is referred, we contact families for an hour-long intake appointment with youth and parent/guardian. During the intake process will:
- Discuss program, expectations, goals, and other needs
- Paperwork, including Release of Information to referral sources
- Select night youth would like to attend CC, discuss transportation
- Select Mentor
Youth are matched with mentors from a selection of mentor profiles. The majority of matches are very successful.