Please contact PREPS with any questions about how to improve or start a mentorship program in your school today.

Phone: 662.325. 3720



Teen Trendsetters


Moved by the devastating effects of illiteracy and the turnaround possible through family literacy programs, we are compelled to speak up at every opportunity. The Barbara Bush Foundation is the leading advocate for family literacy in the country, and not just because we sponsor the most programs. In fact, we encourage others to establish robust family literacy programs like ours.


  1. Unmet need – waiting lists in all states for adult education programs in public schools and waiting lists for our family literacy programs
  2. Predictable school failure for children of illiterate parents – lacking age-expected communication skills, they start school behind, never catching up and graduating
  3. Negative impacts on us all – more than two-thirds of students who cannot read sufficiently in 4th grade end up in jail or on welfare.
  4. Cost of illiteracy to taxpayers and businesses — more than $20 billion a year.

MENTORING Teen Trendsetters is a mentoring program that pairs high school mentors with 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade students who are six months or more behind in reading. Because of all the volunteer hours contributed, the program operates at a very low cost. Any funds donated to Teen Trendsetters helps to pay for a teacher-sponsor’s stipend for overseeing activity and inputting program data, a comprehensive training program for mentors, curriculum and take-home books, the Foundation’s regional, school-liaison staff and, in some cases, extras, such as transporting mentors.


Those of us who learned from books in early childhood took them for granted. We couldn’t imagine a home without print material or parents who were unable to read to us. Yet there were and still are youngsters in homes like that — with children failing in school before they even get there.

Learning to read, beginning in infancy and toddlerhood, leads to learning nearly everything. But children from impoverished homes will start school on average 19 months behind, and few will ever catch up. Without help, many struggling readers in the 3rd grade will be dropouts before the 12th.

In the program, teen mentors are paired weekly with 1st, 2nd or 3rd graders who are six months or more behind in reading. Together they read and discuss chapters from science-based Brainstorm, an age-appropriate, three-part curriculum, originally created with Scholastic for Teen Trendsetters.

The mentees also can choose from a selection of books to begin their own libraries at home, collecting about 17 books each. Data-driven, Teen Trendsetters is self-evaluated for mid-course correction and externally evaluated to inform the following year’s program.

Quicker to grasp are these participant evaluations:

  • Both mentors and mentees look forward to the experience each week, and both report increased self-esteem resulting from participation.
  • Elementary students gain the equivalent of a year in reading ability.
  • High school students have a 96 percent graduation rate, compared with 73 percent nationally. Many decide to become teachers.

Click here for more information about Teen Trendsetters.

Mississippi Scholars


Implementation for the Mississippi Scholars program is not difficult.  It requires leadership, organization, and a passion for education.  The program is designed to be community sponsored and business led.  The local school district and business community must fully support the program and encourage students to participate by signing up for the Mississippi Scholars Course of Study. There are five program components:  presentations, incentives, senior recognition, publicity, and parent education.  Each component encourages the student to complete the Scholars Course of Study and to graduate as a Mississippi Scholar.  Mississippi Scholars presentations give students good reasons to select the Scholars path. Incentives motivate. Senior recognition provides an opportunity for recognition and fun at the end of the process. Publicity keeps the business and school communities engaged and provide recognition for the students and program. Parent education shares the Mississippi Scholars message with the parents or guardians of students.

Basic Steps of Community Implementation

  1. School district and representatives of business community agree to implement the program.
  2. Local sponsorship is sought through a local Chamber of Commerce or other business organization.
  3. Mississippi Scholars Steering Committee is recruited and formed.  This committee provides leadership, organization and follow-through to the implementation process.  This committee should consist of: • Several business leaders who possess a strong commitment to education • Several educators—high school principal(s), middle school principal(s), school counselor from each middle and high school, school district curriculum coordinator
  4. Business presenters are recruited by the steering committee.
  5. Business presenters are trained by Vickie Powell, Vice President of Foundation Programs, or by a trained local business leader.
  6. 8th grade classroom presentations are scheduled with the school district.  Someone on the local steering committee needs to work with the school district on this.
  7. Presentations are made several weeks prior to students selecting their high school coursework plan.
  8. A senior recognition event is planned and carried out.  The business community/school district recognizes those students who graduate having completed the Mississippi Scholars Course of Study.
  9. Data is collected after presentations are made and provided to the Public Education Forum.  Vickie Powell provides the form for data collection.
  10. Incentives from the business community and school district are provided, if desired.  Incentives help to motivate and reward students in their efforts.
  11. Process is repeated again in subsequent years.  The program can be built upon in the following years.  How?  By providing incentives and gathering community support for the Mississippi Scholars program.

America Reads- Mississippi

What is AmeriCorps?
AmeriCorps, the domestic Peace Corps, engages more than 50,000 Americans in intensive, results-driven volunteer service each year. We’re teaching children to read, making neighborhoods safer, building affordable homes, and responding to natural disasters through more than 1,000 projects. Most AmeriCorps members are selected by and serve with projects like Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many more local and national organizations.  Others serve in AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and AmeriCorps*NCCC (the National Civilian Community Corps). After their term of service, AmeriCorps members receive an education award to help finance college or pay back student loans. To find out more information about AmeriCorps, visit their website at

What do AmeriCorps members do?
AmeriCorps members train volunteers, tutor and mentor at-risk youth, build housing, clean up rivers and streams, help seniors live independently, provide emergency and long-term assistance to victims of natural disasters, and meet other community needs.

AmeriCorps*VISTA members have served economically challenged communities for more than 35 years. The program is dedicated to increasing the capability of people to improve the conditions of their own lives. Members of AmeriCorps*VISTA serve full-time and live in the communities they serve, creating programs that can continue after they complete their service.

AmeriCorps*NCCC is a 10-month, full-time residential service program for men and women ages 18 to 24. Members help meet the nation’s critical needs in the areas of education, public safety, the environment, and other human needs. AmeriCorps*NCCC combines the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service, including leadership and team building.

What is the AmeriCorps Education Award and how can it be used?
The AmeriCorps education award is a $5,550 (dollar value can differ depending on length of service term) award that you can use to attend qualified institutions of higher education or training, or to repay qualified student loans. To qualify for an education award, you must successfully complete the required term of service for your program. You can use your education award for up to 7 years in the following ways, or a combination of them:

to repay qualified existing or future student loans;

to pay all or part of the cost of attending a qualified institution of higher education (including certain vocational programs); or

to pay expenses while participating in an approved school-to-work program.

Are there other AmeriCorps programs in Mississippi?
Yes. More than 44,000 people of all ages and backgrounds are helping to solve problems and strengthen communities through 68 national service projects across Mississippi. Serving through local nonprofits, schools, religious organizations, and other groups, these citizens tutor and mentor children, coordinate after-school programs, build homes, organize neighborhood watch groups, clean parks, recruit volunteers, and accomplish other things to improve communities. For more information, visit the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS) website.

How do I become an America Reads - Mississippi member?
To become an America Reads - Mississippi member, contact a program staff member to locate the Regional University office in the area you are interested in serving.

Are there specific requirements to join?
You must be at least 17 years old, although some service opportunities require you to be at least 18. Some programs have specific skill requests in certain areas, and others look for a bachelor’s degree or a few years of related volunteer / job experience. For others, your motivation and commitment may be the primary requirement.

What training do AmeriCorps members receive?
All AmeriCorps members receive training at the beginning of their service, as well as project-specific training during service. America Reads - Mississippi AmeriCorps members attend a mandatory Member Orientation in August, at least one monthly member training at the regional university centers, other school sponsored trainings, and at least one Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service Volunteer Orientation Conference.

How do I become a School Partner?
ARM School Partners

Apply by contacting the regional program office in their area to get and submit a school partner application;

Are lower academic achieving schools that are selected on a “first come - first serve” basis, with current school partners receiving first priority;

Fund a $5,300 cash match with at least 70% ($3,710) from non-federal sources and 30% ($1,590) from federal sources to cover a portion of the living costs associated with each stipend Corps member placed with your organization, and pay this within 60 days of the member start date;

Provide on-site supervision and support for AmeriCorps members to assist them in effectively performing as reading tutors.

For further information regarding America Reads - Mississippi, contact a program staff member in your area.

Additional Resources

  1. Teen Trendsetters™
  2. Mississippi Association of Partners in Education – Award Winning Governor’s Award
  3. America Reads Mississippi
  4. MS Scholars – Mississippi Economic Council
  5. Boys and Girls Club
  6. Volunteer Mississippi


Information Sources 

  1. “Ongoing Training for Mentors” (p. 4)
  2. “Designing and Customizing Mentor Training” (p. 4)
  3. Readers are Leaders program (p. 4)
  4. United States Department of Education Mentoring Resources Center (p. 8)
  5. Karcher (p. 9)
  6. Dr. Susan G. Weinberger (p. 13)
  7. “Mentor Toolkit Take Stock in Children” (p. 149)
  8. Adapted with permission from: “Now I Get It!” Homework Help Strategies for Volunteers, by Charissa Sgouros and Nicky Martin (The Tutor, Spring 2005, pp. 1–5. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, and New York, NY: Bank Street College of Education).
  9. Adapted with permission from: “Now I Get It!” Homework Help Strategies for Volunteers, by Charissa Sgouros and Nicky Martin (The Tutor, Spring 2005, pp. 1-11. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, and New York, NY: Bank Street College of Education).