Dear Committed Volunteer/Intern,
We’re extremely happy to welcome you to Raising Expectations. Thank you for showing an interest to join our RE family! We want you to feel that your association with Raising Expectations will be mutually beneficial and a gratifying opportunity that offers both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
Raising Expectations has established an outstanding reputation for providing quality services for children and their families. Our goal is to provide an exemplary nurturing academic and social environment for children with a history of academic problems, family challenges and low self-esteem.
We have attempted to address the most common questions that we have addressed over the years in this manual. Inside you will find our policies and procedures, our responsibility to you, your responsibility to Raising Expectations Family (to include the children, their families and the programmatic needs). If any thing is unclear, or if you are uncertain of the expectations, please do not hesitate to speak with any member of the Leadership Team. You are responsible for reading and understanding the contents in the Volunteer/Intern Manual and your performance evaluations will reflect your adherence to Raising Expectations’ policies and procedures. In addition to clarifying responsibilities, we hope this Manual will also give you an indication of the level of interest and unparalleled commitment we have to the welfare of our children and their families.
From time to time the information included in our Volunteer/Intern Manual may change. Every effort will be made to keep you informed through suitable lines of communication, including postings on the bulletin boards in our classroom, emails, online RE calendar, direct phone calls and/or notices sent directly to your address.
Whether you are a mentor/tutor or a new staff member we feel you have made a wise decision to work in this field and are delighted you chose Raising Expectations as your agency of choice. The personal satisfaction gained from helping a child far outweighs any of the material possessions one could ever wish to attain. Your personal life experiences, as well as obvious interest in the welfare of our children are qualities that are critical in being an instrument of change that will last forever.
We extend to you our personal best wishes for your success and happiness at Raising Expectations Inc.
Tangee Allen & Maria Armstrong
Raising Expectations Inc.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH RAISING EXPECTATIONS
You may not have thought about it, but there are the rewards with working in the nonprofit sector. These are just some of the benefits Raising Expectations provides for committed volunteers each year.
Raising Expectations has created many opportunities to discover and develop real world skills that will compliment your academic experience. The positions that we currently have are as follows: Volunteer Coordinator, Special Events Coordinator, Classroom Assistant/Community Liaison, Administrative Assistant, & Raising Expectations II Coordinator. If interested in any of these positions, please inform us.
Community Service Hours
As a college student there are many instances where you will be required to show community service hours rendered. Our program offers as an excellent opportunity to develop leadership skills while simultaneously giving back to your community. Hours are calculated through your RE volunteer id badge and automatically calculated through our Volunteer Database. [A volunteer must complete a minimum of 100 volunteer hours and receive satisfactory or exemplary performance evaluations prior to requesting a letter of recommendation for social organizations, namely but not exclusively, pledging into a fraternity or sorority.}
Work Study Hours
Raising Expectations has been very successful in developing solid collaborative relationships with Community Service Departments on various campuses. Please check with Raising Expectations staff to see if your school is one of our collaborative sites.
This is the most important of all rewards. There is nothing more rewarding and priceless, than knowing that your efforts are seeds of hope that blossom into a mature, educated adult. Throughout the years, Raising Expectations volunteers have supported countless Atlanta youth with their academic and social development, as evidenced by those that graduated high school, are in college, graduated from college or pursued post secondary educational opportunities.
This Volunteer Manual has been prepared to inform you about Raising Expectations’ history, philosophy, program components, and strategies for effective mentoring and tutoring, policies, as well as the benefits provided to you as a valued volunteer/staff and the conduct expected from you. It does not, however, constitute an offer of employment or a contract of employment.
No Volunteer Manual can answer every question, nor would we want to restrict the normal question and answer interchange among us doing our orientation and training sessions. It is during our person-to-person conversations that we can better know each other, express our views and work together in a harmonious relationship.
We ask that you read this manual carefully. We will refer to it at trainings, leadership meetings and conferences, well as whenever questions arise.
Additionally, please be mindful that copies of all policy changes will placed on our bulletin boards in our classroom and/or emailed as they become available.
Education has the potential to redistribute resources in our society. It is here that we embark upon the awesome task of raising the expectations children have for themselves with regard to their success in school and life. We tutor students by assisting with homework, individually assessing students and working with them on their strengths and weaknesses through computerized and small group tutorial sessions. Additionally students create Raising Expectations portfolios that include inspirational poems that they memorize, individual goals and charts, journal entries, motivational quotes and activities listed that students have participated in over the course of the years involved with the program. Students that attend the Atlanta University Center mentor the children/youth in Raising Expectations.
Each day, students are required to follow the academic schedule posted. Students may also participate in collaborative group projects, life skills groups, and individual mentoring. Academic tutorial instruction is not religiously based.
Raising Expectations recognizes how increasingly difficult it has become for our school to not only academically prepare children, but to simultaneously educate them on coping with complex social and personal challenges. We are committed to providing an auxiliary support system to under-served children in Atlanta. Academic tutorial further strengthens and compliments classroom instruction and goals. We maintain an open and receptive line of communication between administrators, teachers and counselors of each child. We accompany parents to conferences and make impromptu visits to the school to check on each student’s progress. In addition, we closely monitor academic progress through grade reports, CRCT scores, progress reports and teacher evaluations. Our goal is to mirror the efforts being made in the classroom and raise the academic expectations towards excellence. We admire and respect the public school system and acknowledge their challenges by reinforcing their commitment to each student through our ongoing efforts to communicate about the academic and social welfare of our students.
The process of discovery means to obtain knowledge or to study. In life, we spend a good portion of our time discovering new things about ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live. This program component prepares the children/youth for the challenges of life, by providing them with opportunities to discover the world out side of what they known. We challenge the students with life skills workshops, conflict resolution skills, effective communication, learning about black history, multicultural education, as well as exposure to the arts just to name a few. All of this exposure broadens what we call their “life lens”, which we define as their realm of experiences outside of their home environment and immediate community.
This segment of the program is designed to involve parents in the child’s development. An initial meeting is held to discuss the conditions of the Social Contract, which states the goals for each child, along with the expectations that we have for each child. In addition, parents are advised of the importance of establishing a rapport with school officials. Meetings are held twice a month with parents to discuss the progress of the children, academic progress, as well as discussing their evaluation of the services we provide. Parents are encouraged to visit and participate during activities such as the Reading Group, Community Service Learning etc. Our goal is strengthen the relationship with the home, school and community. This partnership creates an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust between the school, the home, the community and Raising Expectations.
Raising Expectations is founded upon the fundamental premise of not just giving back to our communities, but serving our communities as an inherent responsibility. Therefore, we instill in our children this sense of responsibility through our Community Service Learning. It is here that we participate in activities of service to our community, along with teaching our children through application the true essence of service. Their learning transpires when they responsible for selecting the project, determining the significance of the project and finally putting their plan into action. The children are responsible for accomplishing the task with the guidance and counsel of the mentors/tutors. Afterwards, the children and the mentors/tutors discuss the project selected and the knowledge gained for the hands on implementation of the idea. The feedback allows the children the opportunity to realize the importance of critical thinking. Our goal is to create a cycle of giving in society, one child at a time.
- Be committed and consistent
- Be kind but firm, and establish that you are in charge. You set the tone and expectations before you begin working with the child/ren.
- Be patient. Be willing to explain concepts more than once, and in more than one way, if necessary.
- Let your student be an active participant in the learning process; encourage her/him to ask questions and further explore areas of interest.
- Remember that every student learns in a different way and speed. Find a method and place that is conducive to students learning.
- Reassure your student that there is nothing wrong with asking questions or making mistakes. It is part of the learning process.
- Be creative and imaginative with your tutoring methods.
- Do not preach! Your student will be more receptive to a confident or friend not to someone he/she perceives to be judgmental or authoritative.
- In small group tutoring, encourage an atmosphere that is safe enough for even the shyest student to ask questions and respond comfortably. Elicit responses from all students in your group.
- Reduce distractions as much as possible.
- Always plan more for a session that you have time for. It is better to have too much to than run out of ideas, materials and activities. (See classroom leader)
- Try to begin at a level within the students grasp to create an atmosphere of success. Do not assume she/he knows certain fundamentals.
- Introduce and explore materials together before having your student work on problems independently.
- Give clear directions. Break tasks into small pieces if necessary.
- Ask questions to stimulate thought, not just to get immediate answers. Ask open-ended questions.
- Ask your student to explain his/her work. This will encourage thinking and will help you recognize flaws in logic.
- Provide positive feedback and reward your student for hard work and improvement.
- Find out where the students’ understanding is faulty
- Build on what the student does understand
IDEAS ON EFFECTIVE MENTORING
- Understand the importance of building relationships through: Consistency of contact & genuine interest
- Smile & show an interest in youth by greeting them daily - DO YOU SEE ME?
- Understand that playtime with the students is not during tutoring
- Use self control, avoid yelling and sarcasm
- Use a respectful, polite and controlled tone of voice
- Use positive reinforcement daily … be complimentary on a regular basis
- Use your life experiences to offer teachable moments as they present themselves
- Be patient and empathetic while creating boundaries and setting high expectations
What is Mentoring?
A mentor is an adult who, along with parents, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and a constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there. A mentoring relationship can take many forms. In the best relationships, the adult helps the youth define and achieve his/her goals.As a mentor, you might help your mentee:
- Plan a project for school
- Explore a topic of mutual interest
- Set some career goals and start taking steps to make them happen
- Learn more about the community and how to help others through volunteering
- Strengthen communication skills and ability to relate well to all kinds of people
- Make healthy choices about day-to-day life, from food to exercise and beyond
Few bonds in life are more influential than those between a young person and an adult. Mentors are adults who, along with parents, provide young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example.
Since mentoring is so important to young people, most adults want to know the basics before they are matched with a child. Typically they want to know - "What is a mentor?" "What is expected of me?" "Am I really up for the job?"
This lesson will put any worries to rest by giving you a chance to take stock of what you already know about mentoring and by teaching you more about what a mentor is.
Do's and Don'ts
- Appreciate any signs of growth
- Listen carefully to what your mentee says
- Ask good questions
- Share your thoughts and feelings with your mentee
- Remember to be on time
- Try your best to be a good role model
- Learn any special rules that are part of your program
- Be interested in your mentee
- Show that you recognize the mentee's values and lifestyle
- Strive for mutual respect
- Be honest
- Think you are going to change the world overnight
- Jump to conclusions
- Be judgmental
- Forget communication means listening too
- Forget how important you are to your mentee
- Use poor language
- Get talked into things that you know are against program rules
- Try to be a parent
- Try to inflict your beliefs or values on a mentee; rather, demonstrate your values
- Settle for rudeness or foul language
- Think kids can't spot insincerity
Just as there are common mistakes and barriers to good listening, the same can be said of talking - verbal communication. Some communication styles tend to get in the way of a good interaction. These include:
- Ordering - Telling your mentee what he/she should do. For example, "Stop complaining that your Spanish teacher gave you a failing grade. Go into school tomorrow and talk to her about it."
- Threatening - Telling your mentee to do something, "or else . . ." - suggesting there's only one acceptable course of action. For example, "If you don't start studying more, I'm not going to work with you on your school work any more."
- Avoiding - Trying to avoid problems or uncomfortable situations in the hope that they may go away on their own. For example, "Oh, let's not talk about that. It's so depressing! Let's try to find something happy to think about."
- Pacifying - Trying to make your mentee feel better without really addressing the problem. For example: if your mentee says, "I feel bad because I was really mean to my little sister!" You reply, "Oh, don't worry about it, I did the same thing many times." Even though you may be sincere, you haven't helped your mentee resolve the issue.
- Lecturing - Giving your mentee unsolicited advise. For example, "If you want to get ahead in life you must really go to college. You should really work harder in school so that you can get into college."
Once your mentoring relationship is off to a good start, you and your mentee enter the second phase: engage. From the outset you have worked on getting to know one another while at the same time planning specific activities and goals for the mentorship. This is sometimes called paying attention to "task" - the things you and your mentee want to do and accomplish; and to "relationship" - building a solid connection between you. In the Engage phase, you will deepen and strengthen your relationship, developing greater mutual trust and respect. At the same time, you will be further defining tasks - defining goals and making plans for activities that will help meet your mentee's goals.
We expect each person to act in a mature responsible manner at all times. Any mistreatment of the children or violations of the policies outlined in this manual are grounds for disciplinary actions. Under no circumstances should you use physical force with any youth or use inappropriate language. Doing so are grounds for immediate dismissal. Also, prior to or following any RE organized activity, you are not to take any RE student off of the Raising Expectations premises, except with the written expressed permission of Raising Expectations or to an event sponsored by Raising Expectations.
Unacceptable behavior which does not lead to immediate dismissal may be dealt with in the following manner:
- Verbal Warning
- First Written Warning
- Individual Conference
- Lead Team Meeting
Bulletin Boards & Emails
Bulletins, bulletin board(s), phone calls, text messages and emails are our “official” way of keeping everyone informed about new policies, changes in procedures, upcoming events and meetings. Information of general interest is posted regularly on the bulletin board(s) or emails. Please form a habit of reading these regularly so that you will be familiar with the information posted on it. Any changes in email addresses must be communicated to the Volunteer Coordinator as soon as possible. These boards will be located at each RE site.
Successful working conditions and relationships depend upon successful communication. Not only do you need to stay aware of changes in procedures, policies and general information. At Raising Expectations we welcome your ideas, suggestions and please feel free to advise us of your personal goals or challenges that may affect your work.
In addition to the exchanges of information and expressions of ideas and attitudes that occur daily, make certain you are aware of and utilize Raising Expectations methods of communication, including this Volunteer/Staff Manual, bulletin boards, discussions with your volunteer coordinator, memoranda, volunteer meetings, newsletters, training sessions, e-mails, phone call etc. Please use the following online calendar, facebook page and web based calendar to stay current on RE events and projects:
- RE 100 Strong (Facebook)
- YouTube: theRealRE
- Photobucket: RaisingExpectations
Raising Expectations requires that you attend meetings throughout the semester, as well as impromptu meetings called to deal with any student challenges and or discussions around improvement. These meetings are designed to support your role to become more effective tutors and mentors.
How You Were Selected
We carefully select our volunteer through written application, past experience and reference checks.
Volunteer Job Descriptions
We maintain a job description for each position with Raising Expectations. When your duties and responsibilities are changed, your job description will be updated.
Emergency Evacuation Procedures
In the event of an emergency, the site coordinator or administrator will inform staff and volunteers at which point, students should be directed
Letters of Recommendation or Volunteer Hours Confirmation
A volunteer must complete a minimum of 100 volunteer hours and receive satisfactory or exemplary performance evaluations prior from Raising Expectations staff prior to requesting a letter of recommendation for social organizations, namely but not exclusively pledging into a fraternity or sorority. Volunteers can receive a print out of completed hours by requesting that information at least 7 days in advance. These print outs will serve as the organization’s official mode of hour verification as needed for classes.
Electronic Devices Policy
These items (ipod’s, mp3 players, cell phones etc.) must be turned off, turned to vibrate and concealed as they are distracting and disruptive to the educational process. This includes texting, checking email or using smart phones during Raising Expectations programming. We request that electronic devices are only used in the event of an emergency, at which point, the volunteer should excuse himself/herself to do so outside of the Raising Expectations classroom spaces. We value the students that enroll in Raising Expectations programming and pride ourselves in making sure that we provide them with high quality tutoring and mentoring services. Your role as a volunteer is critical to this process and therefore we expect you to act accordingly while volunteering at Raising Expectations. Persistent issues may lead to further disciplinary action.
Standards of Conduct
By accepting an assignment with us, you have a responsibility to Raising Expectations and to your colleagues to adhere to certain rules of behavior and conduct. The purpose of these rules is not to restrict your rights, but rather to be certain that you understand what conduct is expected and necessary.
Raising Expectations intends to provide a work environment that is pleasant, healthy, comfortable and free from intimidation, hostility or other offenses that might interfere with the performance of students or other volunteers/staff. Harassment of any sort – verbal, physical, visual- will not be tolerated
What Is Harassment?
Harassment can take many forms. It may be, but is not limited to: words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation, physical contact, or violence. Harassment is not necessarily sexual in nature.
Sexually harassing conduct may include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature that prevents an individual from effectively performing the duties of their position or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, or when such conduct is made a condition of employment compensation either implicitly or explicitly.
Failure to comply with this policy is grounds for dismissal.
VIOLATION OF THIS POLICY PROHIBITING HARASSMENT WHICH AFFECTS THE WORKPLACE WILL SUBJECT A VOLUNTEERTO DISCIPLINARY ACTION UP TO AND INCLUDING IMMEDIATE DISCHARGE
All volunteers must avoid behavior which may even raise the implication of harassment. If your question whether or not something you do could be deemed harassment, the best choice would be not to perform that behavior.
- If possible, tell the harasser that his or her actions are unwelcome and that they should stop.
- Immediately notify the Executive Directors. The Executive Directors must immediately report all incidents of suspected or reported incidents to the Board of Directors.
- If additional incidents occur, immediately report them to the same individuals to whom you reported all prior incidents.
- If you feel that the Executive Director has acted inconsistently with this policy or if you feel that your complaint has not been handled to your satisfaction, please contact the Chair of the Board of Directors.
No volunteer/employee will be retaliated against for reporting an incident of harassment and immediate action will be taken should the alleged harasser engage in retaliation or any adverse treatment against the individual reporting the incident.
You should never assume that the organization is aware of your problem. It is your responsibility to bring your complaints and concerns to our attention so that we can help resolve them.
All mentors/tutors are asked to commit to either one day during the week (Monday-Friday) and one Saturday a month or two days during the week without a weekend commitment. If you are unable to attend tutorial on your committed day, please send email notification stating the day you will be missing and the reason for your absence to firstname.lastname@example.org If a volunteer encumbers more than 2 unexcused absences a month, the volunteer will receive a verbal warning of probation. If a volunteer continues to miss more than 2 additional days after the verbal warning, written notification of a probation period will be mail via email and/or postage mail. If a volunteer incurs more than 4 unexcused absences on his/her committed days after the written notification was post marked, the volunteer will be dismissed. The best tutors and mentors are first and foremost present for the students they work with, so please remember how attendance factors into your role as a volunteer with young people.
Off-Site Activities Policy
Permission slips, or their equivalent, signed by the parent of a mentee are required before a mentee can engage in any off-site Raising Expectations activity. Accordingly, you are not to take or accompany a mentee off site (including to the college library). Raising Expectations does not accept any liability for any non-sponsored activities which you may engage in with your mentee off of the Raising Expectations premises. We strongly discourage any such activity.
This policy states Raising Expectation's position on discrimination. This policy applies to all Raising Expectations’ employees, volunteers, members, clients and contractors.
Raising Expectations’ follows an equal opportunity employment policy and employs personnel without regard to race, creed, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, physical or mental ability, veteran status, and marital status.
This policy also applies to internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, terminations, outside vendors, organization members and customers, service clients, use of contractors and consultants, and dealings with the general public.
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS
In order to ensure that individuals who have the qualifications to perform the duties of positions, and who are likely to serve Raising Expectations interests are selected, the following information found on the employment/volunteer application or resume will be verified on final, external candidates for all positions: work/volunteer history, reference check, social security number, driver’s license, and criminal convictions. The following information found on the volunteer application will be verified for all volunteer candidates: volunteer history, reference check, social security number, driver’s license, and criminal convictions. Additional background information may also be checked for positions designated as requiring additional review. In most cases, the background check must be completed before the candidate begins employment or volunteer work. Adverse information found on any of the above may result in the withdrawal of the job/volunteer offer. If programmatic needs require that the candidate begin employment or volunteer work prior to the completion of the background check, continued employment or volunteer work is contingent upon successful completion of the background check.
In the event there are diverging opinions among the co-founders on how to proceed as a result of adverse information, the Board of Directors will make the final decision on the action to be taken.
Raising Expectations reserves the right to conduct background checks on internal applicants for a change of status to a career or term position from one for which a background check was not required. In addition, Raising Expectations reserves the right to conduct background checks on internal applicants for promotion/transfer/reclassification to a position requiring additional review.