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R.O.O.T.S Mentoring: Transforming Lives Through Dedicated Mentorship

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R.o.o.t.s Mentoring 2

R.O.O.T.S Mentoring

Programs

Mentoring Program

Location

Fayetteville, North Carolina

R.O.O.T.S. Mentoring (Regiment Of Overriding The Statistics), founded by Marcus Jenkins, has been transforming lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for nine years. Their mission is to redefine young lives by connecting them with positive role models and vital resources, which are unfortunately not afforded to all children, “We really focus on inspiring and developing at-promise youth and helping them redefine their trajectory,” says Jenkins. 

After a pivotal moment, Jenkins was inspired by positive role models to become “a resource to the youth to ensure that this didn’t happen to them going forward.” In 2016, he interned under Jeff May, then the development coordinator for Cumberland County Schools, and now the R.O.O.T.S. board president. This experience ignited Jenkins’ passion for youth development.

Early Partnerships and Focus

R.O.O.T.S. first partnered with Alger B. Wilkins High School, an alternative school for students behind academically. The program connected students with college mentors, bridging gaps and providing clear paths to success. Focusing on accountability, code-switching, and effective communication skills, R.O.O.T.S provides mentors who are college students from Fayetteville State University. These mentors service K-12 Mentees. During COVID-19, the Executive Team was created to pivot to focusing on recreational centers to maintain in-person interactions, ensuring continuous engagement through “Real Talk” sessions.

“We’re also working with the parents and siblings within these rec centers. So now, whenever we’re engaging the youth in schools, they’re going home, but they’re coming back to the rec centers for our ‘Real Talk’ sessions to develop them,” Jenkins explains. This holistic method fosters collaboration and reinforces the program’s impact on entire families.

For nearly nine years, R.O.O.T.S. has thrived on word-of-mouth relationships. “Our track record really speaks for itself,” Jenkins remarks. The team’s genuine, passionate approach has opened many doors. Local college students, often with familial ties to schools, drive this success. “Everything we do within our organization is free because of the demographic we serve,” Jenkins emphasizes. “Our inbox is flooded with requests for our services. It’s a blessing to be able to be a blessing.”

R.O.O.T.S Partnership with AfterSchool HQ

Before partnering with AfterSchool HQ, R.O.O.T.S. relied heavily on manual processes for managing their data. The use of Google Forms, while functional, made data management cumbersome and inefficient. Reflecting on this period, Jenkins remarked, “If you aren’t passionate, you are not going to survive in these early stages.” This comment underscores the challenges faced by the organization in handling its data operations manually. However, the introduction of AfterSchool HQ marked a significant turning point.

Jenkins enthusiastically acknowledges, “It’s been a game-changer.” The AfterSchool HQ platform has revolutionized R.O.O.T.S’ operations by allowing for seamless data uploads, real-time report generation, and simplified stakeholder engagement. These features have collectively streamlined their management processes, transforming the organization’s ability to handle and utilize data effectively.

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1. Heat Map and Zip Code Tracking

R.O.O.T.S. has grown significantly since its inception, starting with just one school and 115 students and expanding to 11 schools and four recreation centers. Jenkins points out the zip code component as a particularly valuable feature: 

“We have a heat map that tracks all the youth we serve and the specific zip codes in which they come from. It’s been a game-changer for us because now whenever we meet with the City Council or provide our reports, we’re able to speak directly to the different zip codes.” 

This heat map not only aids in visualizing their reach but also enhances the granularity and precision of their reports, thereby improving stakeholder communication.

2. Survey Feature for Impact Assessment

Another essential tool provided by AfterSchool HQ’s management software is the surveys feature. At the end of each year, R.O.O.T.S collects feedback from staff at schools and recreation centers, which helps in creating comprehensive reports that showcase their impact. These detailed reports, backed by data, enhance storytelling and are instrumental in securing additional funding by clearly demonstrating the areas of impact.

3. Customizable Data Tracking for Grants

The ability to customize data tracking for specific grants is one of the standout features of AfterSchool HQ for R.O.O.T.S. “The data we collect within AfterSchool HQ is always based on the grant we are applying for or have received,” Jenkins explains. Currently, R.O.O.T.S. is working with the city of Fayetteville, tracking various metrics such as disabilities, veteran status, household income, and participation in free or reduced lunch programs. 

The platform’s flexibility in customizing questions on forms ensures that R.O.O.T.S. can consistently meet the specific requirements of each grant. Jenkins notes, “That flexibility is one of my favorite components about AfterSchool HQ.”

Positive Change: R.O.O.T.S Success

One of R.O.O.T.S’ earliest success stories occurred at Alger B Wilkins High School. Marcus Jenkins recalls their intentional approach: “We always talk about code-switching, so every time our staff is in the school, we are dressed to par.” This approach caught the students’ attention, leading to meaningful interactions.

Jenkins shares the transformation of a student nicknamed “Trouble,” who initially resisted but eventually found inspiration through Jenkins’ mentorship and the book “Think and Grow Rich.” Jenkins emphasizes, “When I first met you, I thought you were the lamest person I ever met,” Trouble admitted, but later appreciated the value of code-switching and professional demeanor.

R.O.O.T.S. demonstrates relatability by dressing down during tours, showing students they are not far removed. During a tour, about 80% of the students registered on the spot for Fayetteville State University. A team member expressed gratitude, saying, “I remember hearing some of my students say, ‘I think I can see myself here now.’” 

R.o.o.t.s Mentoring

First Gala & Scholarship Awards

Recently, R.O.O.T.S. held its first gala, an event that deeply moved Marcus Jenkins. During the gala, scholarships were awarded in the name of Jenkins’ grandfather, a principal in Asheville, North Carolina, and a significant influence in his life. Jenkins recalls a powerful story from his youth when a stranger recognized his grandfather’s name and shared a personal story of gratitude.

“Understanding that I come from the same lineage as an individual who made that much of an impact across the board was all the motivation I needed to continue to be a resource,” Jenkins reflects. This legacy inspired the creation of scholarships to help at-promise youth further their education, continuing his grandfather’s dedication to education and community service.

Giving these scholarships has been a special moment for Jenkins, affirming his mission and impact.

 “As a young Black man doing this, being a steward, an advocate, a liaison, and an example for these youth is what I pride myself on. I sleep well at night knowing that I make an impact and being genuine in every single thing that I do,” Jenkins shares.

To Conclude…

Marcus Jenkins expresses immense gratitude for AfterSchool HQ, recognizing its crucial role in R.O.O.T.S’ growth. “AfterSchool HQ allows us to scale that much more and continue to override statistics on a day-to-day basis,” he affirms. Jenkins is a strong advocate for the platform, emphasizing its value for community-focused work. “Anybody who is doing work in the community, genuine, passionate, consistent work, having a tool like this is going to make your life a whole lot easier,” he states.

Jenkins acknowledges the realities of burnout in community work, noting, “We shed tears behind this, we sweat, we bleed behind this. But at the end of the day, having a partner who is as genuine as AfterSchool HQ and really wants to see you thrive and succeed, again, you can’t go wrong by any means.”

Encouraging others to explore the platform, he concludes, “If you are looking for a tool, come check out AfterSchool HQ. They have exactly what you need. Sincerely, And I stand on that.”

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