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Coming Together: Mentors and Scholars Support Each Other Across the Distance

Today, America needs to hear from our young people of color. PEAK has the platform to help with that. If you are following PEAK's social media, you may have noticed that our scholars have taken over posting this summer. Read more about this youth-led project here.

We are proud of the work our scholars are doing and grateful for the expertise that Interim Program Manager Nena Woo has brought to the project and to PEAK this summer.

This spring and summer has been a time of many changes and new ways of being for all of us. PEAK’s social media project is just one of many adaptations, large and small, that have changed the how - but not the why - of PEAK’s mission to support our scholars to high school graduation and beyond.

Here are a few more snapshots of remote mentoring this summer:

- A mentor brings her young children to visit her scholar at home in the early days of COVID-19. They talk across a fence gate, instead of at the mentor’s kitchen table as usual.

- A large group of scholars meets on a Zoom call to share what they are observing in their communities during the most intense week of national protests and looting in some neighborhoods.

One says her neighborhood is now at “war.”

Some share that they have family stationed outside neighborhood shops, protecting their local businesses.

Others worry that destruction they are seeing will distract from the purpose of peaceful protestors.

- A rising senior studies for her ACT, patiently waiting for her chance to complete the test on a later date due to rescheduling around the delays of COVID.

- A mentor and a scholar work their way through a book on personal finance and investing via Facetime. They also do their best to train at a local park (socially distanced, of course) for when soccer might resume.

- A mentor involved in social action protests passes by Holy Trinity during a march and shares her experience with her scholar by phone as they discuss their own experiences and opinions. The young scholar expresses her gratitude for her mentor’s social action and support.

This summer every PEAK scholar has had their lives turned upside down, and so have many mentors. As a community, many of us are experiencing stressors for the first time to a degree that our PEAK scholars have long felt every day due to disinvestment in their communities, housing or food insecurity, racism, violence, or simply the overwhelming task of finding a way to land themselves on the college prep track without the generational wisdom that others rely on.

The magic that is PEAK happens when mentors and scholars work together to overcome life’s challenges. Trust comes slowly and builds over the four years of high school, but can last a lifetime.

One thing PEAK staff see every day is that every scholar and mentor pair is unique. The reason 100% of PEAK scholars have graduated high school and been accepted to college since 2006 is because PEAK - particularly each volunteer mentor - stands by our scholars and refuses to give up on them, even when things get tough. What that looks like, however, ranges widely: from extra academic help to support for a grieving scholar.

As we all continue to press on in this time of unprecedented change and uncertainty, we can only express gratitude for the many ways our community comes together to support each other.


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