Over the past year, a core group of Kieve-Wavus Education (KWE) staff have been working with members of the Emanuel and Pauline A. Lerner Foundation on the development of a program model that would support our organizational aspirations for working with Maine youth over longer periods of time. In mid-March Kieve-Wavus was selected as a partner in the Lerner Foundation’s Aspirations Incubator Program (AIP), providing funding over 6 years to pilot a new youth development program model.
In the early stages of development, the new program, Kieve-Wavus Leads (KWL), has laid important groundwork with community partners, including our local K-8 schools, Lincoln Academy (LA) and a handful of community based youth organizations.
“The need for building strong communities to support our young adults has never been more real,” said Jake Abbott, Dean of Students, Lincoln Academy. “As Dean of Students at Lincoln Academy, I regularly find myself in the position of identifying the need for yet another caring and supportive adult to lean on as my students make choices that demand need for guidance, leadership, and caring support. An investment in this community to support both local mentoring and a much broader reaching mentoring incubator will be an invaluable asset for us all.”
Karen-Ann Hagar, Program and Community Outreach Coordinator, CLC-YMCA said, “I strongly believe that the Aspirations Incubator Program would be a perfect fit for all of our efforts to come together in a way that will charge our community forward in making opportunities available for our youth that they may not otherwise get to experience.”
Jill Davis, Guidance Counselor, Great Salt Bay Community School added, “As the K-8 school counselor at the Great Salt Bay Community School, I see the incredible importance of having our middle school students involved in positive activities with their peers. Especially in the middle school, students will seek out the most interesting activities to fill their time. If we provide more opportunities to succeed, these student’s lives will be full of engaging, fun, bonding times.
Kieve Wavus Leads is designed around three major components: first, a focused approach of working with small cohorts of students over a six year period from 7th -12th grade; second, a robust network of community and peer mentors who are fully integrated into the program experience; and third, two evaluative opportunities. These include a holistic student assessment tool developed by Harvard’s PEAR (Partners in Education and Resilience) Institute, measuring the social and emotional development of student participants and an independent program evaluation, conducted by the Data Innovation Project out of the University of Southern Maine.
KWL will begin working with students from the local AOS 93 K-8 schools during the end of their 7th grade year when they will be invited to apply to the program with programming continuing through 12th grade at Lincoln Academy.
The cohort experience will be structured around monthly residential gatherings throughout the school year culminating in progressively longer summer expeditions. Program staff will work closely with their assigned cohorts, over the 6 year arc, and will be fully immersed in our local schools and greater community as a way to foster mentoring relationships that meet youth outside of programming time.
“Making truly transformative changes in young people’s lives depends heavily on building relationships with them and that takes time,” said Henry Kennedy, Kieve-Wavus Education executive director. “ Thanks in large part to the vision, leadership, and generosity of the Lerner Foundation, our dream of working closely and extensively with kids right in our own backyard in collaboration with many other excellent organizations will soon become reality.”