Peers Advising Students to Succeed (PASS-2) and “Civic Engagement and Social Movements” have created a peer-to-peer model of relationship building and information sharing that provides a compassionate space for underserved students to access the resources, requirements, and support they need to succeed and thrive in school. By providing high school graduation requirements, college entrance requirements, and personalized stories of overcoming academic struggles, peer mentors are interrupting inequitable access to information resulting from the 600:1 counselor to student ratio.
The PASS-2 academic peer education and mentoring program was created by OKF youth to address the lack of counselors in the district. PASS-2 provides mentor training twice weekly for 150 upperclassman from Castlemont, Oakland High, Oakland Technical, Fremont, and Skyline high schools and off-site training for 20 Alumni PASS-2 mentors (currently enrolled in local colleges). PASS-2 is embedded into the OKF created and A-G college credited, “Civic Engagement and Social Movements” Leadership course, which is the only leadership course in OUSD that qualifies as a college requirement. The course simultaneously supports mentors (who are often credit-deficient) to satisfy graduation requirements and access higher education, while continuing the successful academic peer mentor support for 9th graders. The mentors are trained in facilitation, relationship and community building, public speaking, civic action projects, and classroom management. Those mentors, in turn, provide a series of four graduation and college readiness workshops and one community builder for 1,800 freshmen annually from a total of five high schools.
Workshop topics include: goal-setting, resource mapping, graduation and college requirements, navigating obstacles, developing study skills; reading a course catalogue, making a four-year academic ‘A-G’ course plan, and learning how to use their transcript to track progression towards academic goals.
In the 2014-2015 academic year, PASS-2 Peer Academic Mentoring and “Civic Engagement & Social Movements,” increased retention and academic resilience of 2,272 students (130 mentors,14 alumni, 1,700 freshmen, and 428 8th graders). Following the program, 83% of 689 freshmen reported, “I am more motivated to Graduate,” and 85% of graduating seniors attend college. After learning to read a transcript, 84% of freshmen felt able to “Stay on track for graduation and make an academic plan.”