In 2012 a group of members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fort Worth, Texas, wanted to have a bigger impact on public schools, particularly an inner-city school located near the church. Because research suggests that 4th graders have reached a higher level of reasoning and are open to new ideas and experiences, this group believed targeting.
4th graders would have the biggest impact on students. This core group, in conjunction with the 4th grade teachers, counselor, and Vice Principal at the school, were tasked to create the most effective program that reached every 4th grader in the school. Over the course of several meetings, Academy 4 was created. Now, Academy 4 serves sixteen schools in the DFW and Austin areas, utilizing Spark Clubs, Leadership Training, and Mentors to reach fourth graders.
We connect churches to schools and communities through mentoring 4th graders in leadership.
Mentorship has proven to be a strategic and effective intervention to help reverse the effects of poverty by improving social-emotional development. Studies show that youth mentoring programs help increase self-confidence, independence, self-sustainability, and optimism about the future, and positively affect at risk-related behaviors like drug and alcohol use, crime, truancy, and high school dropout.