The Rising at Harlan is a curriculum-based, academic-enrichment and personal-development group-mentoring pilot developed to cultivate cultural pride and high self-esteem, develop critical-thinking skills and increase literacy and academic achievement among Black youngsters. The innovative, transformational curriculum is designed to ensure that students know their proud heritage and painful but triumphant history; avoid gangs, addictions and incarceration; and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college or industrial-training programs and 21st century careers. The Rising at Harlan requires a gathering of able, compassionate adults—the high and the humble—who will volunteer to be trained and work with students for roughly ninety minutes a week in intimate group-mentoring sessions that are facilitated by educators, and social-service and wellness professionals trained to execute the consciousness-changing curriculum. If past is indeed prologue, then we have every reason to believe that adults engaging with the soul-nourishing curriculum will be transformed along with the students they are mentoring.
Over the next two years, The Rising at Harlan will focus on recruiting, training, and engaging 200 to 250 African American men and women to serve as mentors for the students. With an enrollment of over 1,000 students in grades 9 through 12, more than 94 percent are categorized as low-income students; 98.6 percent of the students are Black; sixty-five percent are young men. Once the premier high school on Chicago’s South Side, due to lack of resources, the challenged lives of many students and unstable communities they live in, today Harlan High School is facing serious challenges due to low academic performance. In 2011, only 47.9 percent of the seniors graduated within five years. Of the graduates, while 55.7 percent enrolled in college, only 5.9 percent were actually eligible for admission to a selective four-year institution based on grade-point average and standardized test scores.
Fortunately, Harlan has a powerful leader and caring teachers and administrators. Principal Reginald Evans has already made great improvements and is committed to making Harlan a top-tier school again, one that all children deserve and must have to grow into self-sufficient, caring and confident adults. We hope you will join us on this journey and support National CARES in our whole-school turnaround effort. The children at Harlan need you and your able family members, colleagues, congregants and friends to join us on this journey.
The National CARES Mentoring Movement is a community-engagement effort committed to closing the huge gap between the relatively few Black mentors and the many Black children in need of mentoring support. We recruit, train and deploy adults to serve as mentors in schools and youth-serving organizations that use the traditional one-to-one model; and we develop culturally grounded, evidence-based, group-mentoring programs so we will serve more of the multitudes of children in need of our mentoring support. Working through a growing national network of nearly 60 CARES Mentor-Recruitment Affiliates throughout the nation, National CARES has recruited more than 125,000 mentors who are serving more than 135,000 children.