Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: May 17, 2011 7:34:32 AM PDT
Washington Campus Compact AmeriCorps Retention Project Mentors 300 Bellingham and Whatcom County Students

Contact: Brian Heinrich, 360-650-4147, brian.heinrich@wwu.edu

BELLINGHAM – Washington Campus Compact, hosted by Western Washington University, is recognizing its five full-time AmeriCorps members during the fifth annual AmeriCorps Week, a national celebration of the combined efforts and impacts of over 80,000 AmeriCorps members nationwide.

The AmeriCorps members serve at Bellingham Technical College, Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College to coordinate one-to-one mentoring partnerships on college campuses and with area middle and high schools. Mentoring is a proven method to encourage middle and high school students to stay in school, graduate, and enroll in college. Additionally, college students who mentor have shown improved academic success as well as progress in attaining their own degrees. The AmeriCorps Retention Project has 45 full-time AmeriCorps members at 27 colleges and universities in Washington and Oregon.

At the Bellingham-area campuses, the AmeriCorps Retention Project members have recruited over 100 college student mentors who have served over 300 youth in Bellingham and surround communities. Program-wide, two key indicators are that, as a result of the mentoring relationship, 88% of mentees agree that they want to do well in school and 90% are now interested in going to college.

At Bellingham Technical College, Shanni Welsh from Boise, Idaho coordinates a peer support program developing leadership and communication skills.

At Western Washington University, three AmeriCorps members serve in a variety of capacities. Shawna Held from Everett serves in the Admissions office at Western Washington University recruiting college students serve to as mentors for the college admissions process at Mount Vernon High School, Squalicum High School and Ferndale High School. Isabel Meaker from Bellingham serves in the Department of Secondary Education and trains college students to be mentors at Shuksan Middle School, Sterling Meadows-Mercy Housing and Squalicum High School. Abraham Rodriguez-Hernandez from Vancouver, B.C., serves in the Teaching English as a Second Language program helping to bridge the opportunity gap between migrant students and higher education.

Katie Heizenrader from Tacoma serves in the office of Transitional Learning at Whatcom Community College, a peer mentoring program that offers support to transitional learners in the Adult Basic Education, GED, and related programs.

“The impact made by these AmeriCorps members is incredible,” said Jennifer Dorr, Washington Campus Compact executive director. “They have managed mentoring and service-learning programs that have helped local students succeed, graduate, and be better prepared to pursue a college education.”

Established in 1992 and hosted at Western Washington University, Washington Campus Compact is committed to providing meaningful experiences for students to become active, engaged leaders in their communities, furthering the civic and public purposes of higher education, and strengthening communities. Washington Campus Compact has 42 college and university members throughout Washington state, Idaho and Alaska. It is an affiliate state office of Campus Compact, a national organization comprised of more than 1,100 colleges and universities committed to the civic and public purposes of higher education.

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