U.S. Rep. André Carson, D-7th District, reintroduced a bill this week to create a federal grant program to provide mentoring for at-risk students transitioning from middle to high school.
Carson, who represents the the south side of Indianapolis in Congress, has unsuccessfully proposed similar bills three times in the past.
If passed, the Transition-To-Success Mentoring Act, or House Bill 804, would amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide $50 million in grants for the mentoring program. Students in the program would create a plan for success in high school with a mentor called a “Success Coach.”
“Congressman Carson sees non-traditional, outside-the-classroom support as something that’s really critical, both from his personal experience and what he’s seen in the community,” said Charlie Arnowitz, Carson’s senior legislative assistant.
Mentoring programs have been shown to reduce negative behavior, increase school attendance and improve social and emotional development, according to a press release from Carson’s office.
Arnowitz said while they hope to receive bipartisan support for the bill now, it has only been sponsored by Democrats in the past. The new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives may make it more likely to pass this time, Arnowitz said.
Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, a nonprofit that promotes and supports mentoring programs for students across the country, has sponsored the bill since Carson first proposed it in 2013.
“The bill would allow schools – on their own or through a partnership with a nonprofit community-based organization – to pair at-risk students with a qualified mentor to help them navigate the transition from middle to high school,” said Erin Souza-Rezendes, director of communications for MENTOR, in an email.
The bill defines at-risk students, such as those with below a 2.0 GPA or who display other behaviors like showing signs of a drug or alcohol problem or expressing interest in dropping out of school.
“My bill would give more at-risk students the opportunity to participate in high-quality mentoring programs during a particularly challenging time in their lives, and help make sure students have a strong support network to carry them through high school,” Carson said in a press release.