Students receive Hope for Tomorrow scholarships

Originally printed in the Bloomington Sun Current.

By Mike Hanks

Two Bloomington women were recently awarded scholarships through a program that had matched them with mentors from the community years earlier.

Hope for Tomorrow is a nonprofit organization that was founded in Bloomington to provide mentors for middle school girls, aiming to help girls “become the very best ‘them’ that they can be,” according to Ginny Beckett, a 15-year volunteer to the organization and the vice chair of its governing board.

Although the organization was founded in Bloomington, it has evolved over the years and now has chapters in several Twin Cities school districts, as well as programs for boys. And for students who have participated in the Bloomington chapters, the organization remains connected with them through an alumni organization based at Kennedy High School. As a way to continue the organization’s support of students who participated in the one-year mentorships, Hope for Tomorrow created scholarships for Kennedy graduates.

This year the scholarships were awarded to Class of 2014 graduates Brianna Anderson and Emely Sanchez, who each received $600 scholarships. Anderson is attending the University of North Dakota and Sanchez is enrolled at Normandale Community College. both scholarship winners participated in Hope for Tomorrow during their eighth-grade year at Valley View Middle School. 

“It was the best experience of my life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for my mentor,” according to Anderson.

The program pairs students with a mentor, and the duo meets once a month during the school years. The students and their mentors will visit a college campus and an area business during the mentorship, and will also discuss a variety of topics, such as conflict resolution, making good choices and making a good impression, according to Beckett. 

The program began at Valley View Middle School as a way for women to have a positive influence in the lives of middle school girls, and has grown since 2005, when it expanded to Burnsville. The program also has a chapter at Oak Grove Middle School, and a separate chapter for boys at Valley View, one of three chapters for boys that the organization has launched. 

Beckett, who lived in Bloomington when she joined the organization and now lives in Sunfish Lake, had retired from her 30-year career with Northwest Airlines when she was recruited to serve as a mentor. She spent four years as a flight attendant and 26 years in management, and is beginning her 15th year as a mentor in the program.

The organization matches mentors with students on a one-to-one basis, and recruitment of mentors continues to play an important role in maintaining a volunteer roster for the organization’s chapters, according to Beckett. The organization’s working relationships with area businesses has also been important for recruiting volunteers, she noted.

Information about the program is available online at hopefortomorrowmentoring.org.

Contact Mike Hanks at mike.hanks@ecm-inc.com or follow him on Twitter @suncurrent.