At a recent Zoom gathering of POE volunteers and mentors, we reviewed a few important topics. None was more important than checking in on how mentors feel their students are doing. Nearly universally, the feedback and reports were consistent: our students are doing well during the pandemic and rising to the occasion. Many of us have been surprised at how well they are doing, since there are any number of challenges every day for everyone, but especially for our students. They often live in very crowded homes, with shared or scarce internet, and finances are always tight – especially now.
As we reflect on the past 12 months, on the COVID-19 pandemic that so dramatically impacted our students, POE focused our efforts on the two areas that are the mainstay of our scholarship program: financial assistance and mentoring. This year we added a program to provide special financial assistance to students who have been especially impacted by the pandemic’s loss of jobs and income. In total, we have provided $23,000 of special funds to help students who were extra challenged.
We have also invested extra energy in keeping in touch with students. POE mentors have increased the frequency of contact with students to help them carry on – to stay in school, navigate housing challenges, deal with online classes, stay healthy and safe, and talk through critical decisions and experiences to prepare for a career.
Our POE approach of focusing on drive and resilience has really paid off. POE students are used to handling difficult situations this year has just been another kind of challenge. We are so proud of our students!
Also as part of our effort to understand the circumstances of our students during this unusual time, we conducted a survey to understand how we are doing and how we can improve. Here is a summary of the results:
- 62 Respondents
- 3.4 Avg College GPA!
- 60% of our students are managing to still work during COVID
- 18 hours/week average time working
- 19 hours/wk average time studying
A few survey highlights are below:
When asked "What is the ONE thing you want more of?" More than 50% said career/job/internship support
- 57% More career/job/internship support
- 26% More financial support (money!)
- 11% More workshops for first gen students
- 6% More emotional support
And a few important quotes:
- I like that POE makes me feel like I am a part of a community where my goals are encouraged.
- I am extremely grateful that POE has supplied me funds outside of school. The empathy is appreciated more than ever. It helped my family by a lot.
- Family atmosphere and financial support
- Just the constant reminder that there is somewhere I can rely on for help if I need, even if I don't need it at the moment. The knowledge that there is some buffer if something was to happen is what's been the most helpful to me. Plus, the constant internship opportunities that pop up on the fb group.
- What I like most about POE is the fact that they don’t hold back any kind of help they can offer.
- I like my mentor a lot and the amount of worry she has for me. She is always trying to check up on me and I really appreciate it
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