The Pitch In after school mentoring program is a cohort-based, group mentoring program based in the North Lawndale neighborhood. It is designed to offer unique learning experiences and opportunities for personal growth to students in 4th through 8th grades. By focusing on the core competencies of social-emotional learning, we aim to help our young people thrive in their personal lives, their family lives, and their school lives.
Working with school faculty and local area partners, Pitch In staff designs dynamic interactive activities, presentations, and projects to engage our students. Learning themes are carried over throughout the program year to reinforce and sustain learning.
Our program currently takes place at Lawndale Elementary Community Academy, a CPS neighborhood school on Douglass Blvd. Participants can begin the program in 4th grade and have the opportunity to follow up with the same mentors through 8th grade. We strive for a 1:3 mentor/mentee ratio for each of our grades.
Each of our Pitch In classes meets afterschool once a week. Students get together in small groups with their mentors and work together on a wide variety of activities based on monthly themes. Some activities are focused on sharing and helping to foster the mentor/mentee relationship, others on developing new skills, and some are simply FUN. All of our activities are designed to incorporate the values of team work, critical thinking, and self-awareness. We also offer a healthy snack each day to participants.
Our main program runs from October through June. At the end of each month, Pitch In hosts family dinners so that our students can share what they have been working on with their loved ones. This is also the time for Pitch In staff and mentors to deepen their relationships with our families and socialize.
Current Pitch In students are also invited to take part in our 8-week summer mini-camp when school is out of session. This 3 day/week program focuses on teamwork and friendship and includes a variety of special trips and adventures to introduce our students to the wider world of Chicago beyond North Lawndale.
Our overall goal is to provide ongoing support and guidance to our participants in a safe and fun atmosphere. Our staff and volunteer mentors engage with program participants to:
- Cultivate and promote the social and emotional skills needed to succeed
- Support and assist young people in their transition to adolescence and young adulthood
- Offer supportive and caring relationships with adults
- Provide unique learning experiences which supplement and extend classroom learning
- Instill a sense of curiosity and caring about others
- Extend support to parents and families.
In working toward these goals, Pitch In programming seeks to address the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) needs of our participants across five major competency clusters:
- Social awareness
- Relationship skills
- Responsible decision making
We are not an exclusively academic program or a tutoring program but we are aware that research has shown a strong correlation between social emotional skill development and academic success.