NonviolenceWorks, Inc. (NVW) (formerly Men Engaged in Nonviolence,
Inc.) has been a proud partner to the Taos Middle School (TMS) for over 7
years. Over this time period, in close collaboration with TMS
principal’s office, school social workers, school counselors and
teachers, 240 TMS students have been served. Many of these students have
received continued services year after year during their time at TMS.
The services have been composed of two major aspects: Individual
Mentorships and Support Groups. The services initially were only for
males, but 2009 the program evolved in order to be able to provide
services to females as well.
The Mentorship and Support
Groups Program is a gender-specific intervention for at-risk boys and
girls. These students are “at-risk” of academic failure, gang
involvement, juvenile delinquency, premature sexuality, and substance
abuse. The mentorship program pairs adult volunteers with students
identified by schools as likely to benefit from an adult friend and role
model. The mentors make a one-year commitment, pass a background check,
receive their initial training, and then meet weekly with their
mentees. Parental permission is required, but parental participation is
comparatively rare. Detailed intake procedures ensure a good match
between mentors and mentees, and care is taken to gently introduce
mentees to the mentoring experience.
There is no specific
agenda for mentoring – simply showing up and modeling care and concern
is the most important ingredient. Mentors are encouraged to build a
genuine relationship with their mentees, dividing the hour between
friendly, bonding activities (talking, shooting hoops, board games) and
educational activities (tutoring, surfing the web, chess). In many cases
this is the first safe and dependable adult relationship the child has
ever had. When the teaching staff reports a need for tutoring, a mentor
may spend half the hour - or more, if the mentee is willing – helping
with academics. However, we find that most mentees show significant
academic improvement whether or not tutoring is involved. As self-esteem
increases and oppositional defiant behavior falls away, performance tends to improve spontaneously.
education for mentors is given on a monthly basis. Trainings have
included Emotional Intelligence™, Love and Logic™, Nonviolence
Communication™, Motivational Interviewing™, cultural sensitivity, and
understanding the effects of early trauma. Mentors receive peer support
at the weekly “brown bag lunch” and are regularly monitored and
supported by our staff.
The Program staff works
very closely with school principals, social workers, teachers, coaches
and behavioral management specialists to maintain a team approach and to
ensure that each child receives appropriate type and level of services.
In a few cases parents are included. At times, our most vulnerable
mentees who are at higher-risk need additional support services – in
these cases our Program staff in collaboration with the mentors act as
child advocates to insure that these needs are met. Our program has also
made strides into serving the children of the Spanishspeaking immigrant
community, utilizing the members of our staff or mentors who are
The support group format is comprised of the following: a circle of
chairs with adult then youth sitting alternately. The groups are
genders-specific: male groups are composed of men and boys, and the
female groups of women and girls. The group focus includes issues and
concerns of the youth from the preceding week as well as a curriculum
that gives instruction and practice on
communication skills and
emotional intelligence. The youth have the opportunity to interact and
build robust relationships with adults as well have the chance to
observe the adults genuinely expressing their feelings and sharing their
vulnerabilities. The focus is strength-based – utilizing praise and
encouragement, as well as holding the youth accountable for their
actions and language.
For the past 7 years, the NVW Media
Campaign has run a social marketing campaign in partnership with The
Taos News that promotes nonviolence, responsible parenting, and
volunteer service. Included below are some of these Ads featuring TMS
students with their mentors.
Rigorous evaluations are
conducted every year for youth participants in both the Individual
Mentorships and the Support Groups, indicating that 77% of the students
show significant improvement in the areas tested (which are academics,
anger management, communication skills, decision making skills, and
self-esteem). 80% of our matches continue into a second school year
(compared to 40% average nationally). The average duration of mentee
participation is 3 years and growing and for mentors 3 years and
growing. Note: we believe that with additional staff support we can
increase even further the performance of the mentees.
Mentorship and Support Groups Program is supervised by Clinical
Director, Sande Hawley-Grano, LPCC and Director of Operations, Simon
Torrez. Three on-staff coordinators, Mike Martinez, Todd Gravelle, and
Dan Lobato directly run the day-to-day aspects of the Program.
Numbers Served Annually at Taos Middle School
For 1:1 mentoring which is done by screened and trained volunteer community members and/or
1:1 clinical mentoring by licensed clinical NVW staff members. Mentorships meet for 1 hour
weekly throughout the entire school year. Primary focus is social-emotional support and
secondary focus is academic tutoring. Note: many of the mentorships continue across multiple
2008 – 2009: 34 students.
2009 – 2010: 29 students
Back to Programs Home Page