The Academic Cultural Enrichment Mentorship Program: An Innovative Approach To Serving African American Youth


  • Kimberly J. Shinew
  • Dan K. Hibbler
  • Denise M. Anderson


youth, mentorship, protective factors, after-school care, programming


The purpose of this study was to evaluate an after-school program that is designed to meet the specific needs of African American youth. The program is called the Academic Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Mentorship Program and is sponsored, in part, by the Champaign Park District. The purpose of the program is to provide students with the competencies and skills needed to be involved, resilient, and successful. The program seeks to foster positive Black identities in the participants, and to develop strong math, reading, oratorical, and analytical thinking skills. The program has a strong African cultural component, as well as academic and recreation components. Three research questions guided the evaluation project: 1) Are the program's goals being achieved; 2) Do the parents and leaders perceive a positive change in the participant's  behaviors and attitudes as a result of their participation in the program; and 3) What are the salient program aspects of the ACE Mentorship Program. The evaluation took place over a two-year period. Pretest and posttest survey data were collected from the participants for two consecutive years. Additionally, at the end of the second year, interviews were conducted with leaders, parents, and participants. The participants' academic grades were also examined. The information collected from the surveys indicated that the pretest and posttest scores on the Protective Factors Scale and Harter's Self-Perception Scale were not significantly different. The academic grades did indicate positive changes for most of the participants. Further, the information received from the interviews with the parents, leaders, and participants consistently indicated that the program is meeting its goals and is having a positive impact on the children. The salient program elements that seemingly contribute to the positive outcomes include effective and consistent leadership, parental involvement, and innovative programming.





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