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Whitworth students invest in Spokane community through RISE mentorship program

November 13, 2013

The RISE (Reinforcing the Importance of Support in Education) tutoring and mentoring program was developed last year by Elise VanDam,’13, and Andrew Pearce, ’14, with the aid of Susan McDaniel, Whitworth interim student-leadership program assistant. This student-led program gives members of the Spokane and Whitworth communities opportunities to mentor and tutor students ranging from elementary to high-school levels. This semester, more than 90 Whitworth students have volunteered in Spokane’s public schools through RISE.

“I would encourage members of the Whitworth community to get involved in this program because many years ago, someone – a parent, a teacher, a coach, etc. – invested in them,” Zanovia Clark, ’14, RISE program manager, says. “For a lot of the children living in this city – the city that Whitworth students call home – that is not a reality. What better way to live out our mission of ‘honoring God, following Christ and serving humanity’ than through investing in our nation’s next generation?”

Whitworth has partnered with eight sites focused around Spokane’s two lowest-income neighborhoods: Hillyard and West Central. These sites include The Community School, Rogers High School, North Central High School, Northwood Middle School, Glover Middle School, Holmes Elementary School, Audubon Elementary School and the Spokane County Juvenile Court.

The RISE program assesses the needs of each partner organization and then develops a way for its volunteers to fit that need. Clark says that there is an agreement among the staff that they need to actively go into the Spokane school community and insure that students receive the necessary support in their academic, social and emotional development.

“It is humbling to know that we are a part of something greater than ourselves,” Clark says. “The reward is knowing that, hopefully, 10 years from now these students will be successful in their daily lives because of the support and potential someone saw in them when they were as young as six years old.”

Over the 2012-13 academic year, RISE recorded 561 hours of tutoring and mentoring service, which translates (based on Washington state figures for the value of volunteer hours) to $11,698.

For the 2013-14 academic year, the RISE program student leaders are Clark, who serves as  program manager, and Andrew Pearce, ‘14, the organization’s recruitment specialist. In addition, there are eight program coordinators, one for each site: Jasmine Barnes, ‘15, Tommy Glasser, ‘15, Claire Hannan, ’16, Sarah Kenney, ’14, Jessica Nguyen, ‘16, Jeannette Potter, ‘16, Kortney Whaley, ‘16, and Ivory Wheeler, ’15.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.