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COACH Kids receives $9,000 grant

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MENTORING: A COACH Kids mentor and mentee play a game during their time together at Rossville Middle/High School.
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COACH KIDS: Mentors and mentees from Rossville Consolidated Schools pose for a photo together in front of, back, from left, Duke Energy Foundation’s Dan Rhodes, COACH Kids Executive Director Susan Grasham, COACH Kids Local Heroes Program Director Lona Davis,Guidance Secretary Colleen Jacoby, and RES Principal Chad Dennison.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

COACH Kids has received a $9,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. The generous donation will help support the COACH Kids Club school-based high school mentoring program in all of the Clinton County public school systems. COACH Kids Club provides an opportunity for high school students to receive focused training to better mentor at-risk elementary school students.

“COACH Kids cannot thank Duke Energy enough for their desire to inspire and lift up the youth of Clinton County through youth mentoring,” said Susan Grasham, COACH Kids Executive Director. “It takes everyone lending a hand, a heart and precious resources to make a difference in the lives of our children.

“I believe this program is so important because we are not just affecting the elementary students,” she added. “This is affecting the high-schoolers. So, we are growing leaders. They are not just tomorrow’s leaders. They are today’s leaders as well. It is neat to have a hand in building them, adding to their charterer and giving them tools so, as they grow older, they even look to see if they can be a part of the solution with their communities. We are excited because it multiplies. It builds on something for the future.”

“We have mentees who have become mentors in the same, program, which is just the best thing,” said Lona Davis, Local Heroes Program Manager.

COACH Kids Club serves over 100 elementary students all over Clinton County and trains their high school mentors through its Local Heroes program. According to A COACH Kids press release, the club trains a new generation of good citizens and volunteers on how to get involved with their community. School-based youth mentoring helps improve student’s classroom behavior, builds self-esteem and self-control. Meeting with a mentor encourages school attendance in a group of students that might otherwise struggle with everyday attendance. Grant funding helps provide recruitment, training for mentors, resources for successful relationships and active supervision of high school mentor. These mentors meet with their student for at least 30 minutes a week throughout the school year, usually during lunch or another appropriated time to play board games, talk and grow a safe and compassionate relationship.

COACH Kids and Local Heroes is made possible by United Way for Clinton County, as well as other corporate partners, churches, civic organizations, as well as many dedicated individuals who give of their resources and their time.

“This is amazing,” Davis said of the donation. “With the growth in our number of mentors, to be able to have the support of Duke Energy and what they have given us is just phenomenal for our training purposes. I don’t have to hold back. I can really help the students with training materials. We will also be using some of this for scholarships for our seniors, as well. So, it is just wonderful, and the kids are very grateful.”

The Duke Energy Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process. According to their release, Duke Energy “invests in programs that support the arts and culture and strengthen the nonprofit community, as well as support strategic initiatives that respond to needs regional-specific needs.”

“The fact that this program impacts students county-wide here in Clinton County makes it very valuable, and the COACH Kids program is respected county-wide,” said Duke Energy’s Dan Rhodes. “So, we want to try to partner with groups that we know are doing a good job with the funding, and we are confident of that with this program.

“It is great,” he added. “And they keep growing and helping more students in trying to have those positive life outcomes that mentorship helps with. The more that we can have those relationships for younger kids and see some of the great older leaders that they have here in the county, I think it is better for everybody. Some of the tops students in Clinton County helping out young kids – I think that is very cool.”