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FLY Mentor
Rion Manita
Rion Manita designed his FLY Mentor program to connect
Middlesex students with local high school students to help
them finish school and prepare to attend college. The idea is
to have the MCC students mentor individual students,
dealing with both academic and social issues.
Middlesex student mentors work with high school guidance
counselors and set up monthly workshops for parents and
students. "This is a great opportunity for MCC students to
develop leadership skills and give back to the community
by providing realistic advice to these high school students,"
said Manita. "The name `FLY' signifies taking flight we
see no limit to what we can accomplish."
As part of FLY Mentor, MCC students also set up specific
times at the high school for "drop-in hours," when younger
students can spontaneously stop by for help with whatever
they need.
The program is now in the second stages of development
and has received grants from both the Deshpande and Desai
foundations. The program was tried initially at Lowell
Middlesex Academy Charter School, but did not work out,
due to time constraints of the school's specialized program.
This year, MCC students will work with Lowell High
School. Manita hopes to get a third Campus Catalyst grant
this year and would eventually like to see the program
replicated on other college campuses.
Jared Blake
Jared Blake started GiveBackTime in the spring of 2011
with his first Campus Catalyst grant. His idea is to create
awareness of the local needs for volunteer work and to
connect volunteers with organizations that help those in
"Our hope is that by creating these connections, we can not
only help those in need, but also promote healthy economic
growth for nonprofits in our area," said Blake. "Our
ultimate goal is to unite volunteers, nonprofits and
businesses online."
During the second stage of the project, Blake found an
"angel investor" willing to donate $25,000 to develop a
substantial website that will host profiles for individuals
and nonprofits, allow for synchronization to most social
media, and be easily expandable. This new website is
currently under development. The site will eventually also
be used for local businesses to pledge funds for hours
volunteered, so the volunteers will be donating their time
and also raising money.
This fall, Blake will be in the third stage of development
with GiveBackTime, and will work with honors students
from Lowell High on their service projects. He also noted
he has taken full advantage of the many networking and
mentoring opportunities afforded by the Deshpande
Foundation and the Sandbox Initiative.
Deborah Kearney
MCC Campus Catalyst Ideas in Action
The Merrimack Valley Sandbox's Campus Catalyst program awards individual grants (in stages) to
students with innovative entrepreneurial ideas. Here are two funded projects from Middlesex students:
Jared Blake displayed his concept for a website to connect volunteer
workers and organizations at the Showcase.
Rion Manita explained his idea for a high school mentoring program at
a recent Campus Catalyst Showcase.