Who Are We? SMILES began in 2003 as a partnership involving leaders from the business, faith, and education communities in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The program was developed in response to the area’s longstanding high and chronic dropout rate, which has contributed to poor workforce education demographics and inhibited economic development. The establishment of SMILES is a direct response to research that identified mentoring as the most effective strategy to keep at-risk students in school through graduation. The SMILES Mentoring Program helps to empower youth in our community to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their potential. The mentoring program recruits adult volunteers who will commit to supporting, guiding, and being a friend to a young person for a period of at least one school year, one hour per week. SMILES Mentors are an asset to the community. As a group, they serve to be part of the solution to attaining a better educated, responsible and community-minded society.
SMILES is a school-based one-to-one mentoring program.
SMILES connects caring adults with students to encourage and help them thrive both in and out of the classroom.
The mission of SMILES is to help at-risk children realize their personal and educational potential through a large scale one-to-one mentoring program.
Because it Works!
- 88% of mentees report that “because of my relationship with my mentor I feel like there are people who will help me out if I need it.”
- 92.0% report that having a mentor has given them a more positive view of their future.
- 60% of our literacy-based mentoring students have increased their reading level after just one year.
- On average, GPA of SMILES mentees went up from 2.17 to 2.27.
- Group Mentoring:
A SMILES facilitator leads the group of one-to-one matches for an hour each week through activities designed to help build healthy relationships.
- Literacy-based Mentoring:
A SMILES facilitator leads the group of one-to-one matches for an hour each week through activities designed to help to improve the student’s reading and literacy skills.
- Independent Mentoring:
Matches meet weekly, one-to-one in the child’s school. SMILES provides mentors with a kit that includes suggestions and ideas for activities and conversation.
It’s Easy to become a Mentor!
- Complete an application
- Come in for a 20-minute interview
- Pick a program that best fits your schedule
- Attend a SMILES mentor training
- Begin your mentoring relationship!
A mentor for every child who needs one. “The value of someone’s worth shouldn’t be measured by how much they make, where they live or how big their house is, but by what they can give back.” - SMILES Mentor