Collegiate Enrichment Program
The Collegiate Enrichment Program is a partnership between The IMPACT Project, Inc. and The Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department, designed to create positive relationships between adult members of the community and children who have been adjudicated delinquent. This program was recognized by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission and won the prestigious “Community-Based Program of the Year ” award.
The program runs concurrent to the collegiate academic calendar and each fall and spring the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department refers youthful offenders for participation. Volunteer mentors are recruited by IMPACT’s program facilitators from four local colleges. The volunteer mentors are often drawn from fraternities, sororities or from classes/clubs that are oriented toward the study of criminal justice/social work/psychology. The volunteer mentors are paired with the juvenile offenders and together they traverse an 8 week curriculum which includes weekly tutoring as well as various rapport building activities. Each program site operates with 8 to 12 youth and 8 to 12 mentors. Approximately 80 juvenile offenders are serviced each academic year.
The youth participating in this program reap profound benefits. The tutoring component refocuses youth to the importance of education, encouraging them to work through academic issues and to continue their education. The activities component promotes pro-social interactions while simultaneously exposing the youth to different ways of thinking in order to expand their problem-solving and decision-making skills. The activities component includes: guest speakers, topical debates, creative writing assignments, community service art projects, recreational games, campus based scavenger hunts, etc. Additionally, the program keeps these children off the streets after school when statistics show juvenile crime rates are at their peak. Also, the youth participating in the program are given the unique opportunity to experience a college campus setting which would not normally fall within their realm of exposure and may spark their interest in pursuing post secondary education.
Volunteer mentor benefits include invaluable work experience and exposure to the field of social work/criminal justice. They have the opportunity to establish professional networks with juvenile probation officers and mentors can also satisfy their internal desires to help improve the quality of the communities in which they live.
Currently, Cedar Crest College provides us with their resources and volunteers.