Bolder Options ensures the promise of our community’s youth is realized, regardless of their life circumstances.
Since 1993, Bolder Options has offered transformational and wellness-based mentoring for at-promise youth during a pivotal point in their lives at ages 10-14. Our youth are facing life challenges related to academics, social/emotional well-being, family/peer relationships, and other struggles, and are referred by a third-party professional such as a teacher, doctor, or social worker. Bolder Options works to build a strong network of support for youth that holistically and strategically serves as a solid foundation to guide them through life’s challenges.
75% of our youth are low-income, 86% from single-parent families, and 70% identify as people of color. These demographics place Bolder youth at a disadvantage to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and ultimately secure a livable wage job with opportunities for advancement. We work to level the playing field by teaching youth that they control their own destiny, and to not set limits on what they believe they can accomplish by setting goals and high expectations for themselves.
Relationships are the center of all that we do at Bolder Options, and we recognize and value the diversity among us. Embracing cultural and community differences provide opportunities to relate, associate, and connect to the world in ways that are personally meaningful. Ways that help inform a sense of identity, self-worth, and belonging. But just as important, ways that offer opportunities to learn of experiences unlike our own.
Youth are strategically matched with a volunteer mentor, and together with staff, set clear and attainable goals to track their growth and achievements. For one year, mentor pairs meet weekly for 2-4 hours to participate in wellness-based activities planned by staff. Our holistic approach focuses on four key personal development areas: Community Connectivity, Lifelong Learning, Healthy Living, and Social/Emotional Development with activities such as:
Career nights and college tours
5Ks and bike rides
Body positivity events
After graduation from our Mentoring Program, youth and mentors can remain involved with Bolder Options through our Alumni Program. For one year, mentee graduates ages 14-20 meet twice a month for 2-hour sessions, activities, and events that support the youth’s transition from high school, post-secondary education, and entering the workforce. Youth engage in activities in a two-phased process through the I Believe and I Achieve Programs, and both are six-month, paid, introductory professional training programs. The core components of both programs include:
Receiving $50 per session attended
Learning pathways to higher education and taking college tours
Learning job search skills
Developing public speaking skills
Receiving $500 contribution to a 529 Plan
Learning personal banking and financial literacy skills
Learning effective communication, conflict resolution, time management, and stress management skills
Participating in health and wellness activities
The real impact of Bolder Options comes after youth graduate from the year-long program and mentors continue to help guide them through middle school and high school, and beyond into college and career.
We are proud of the following outcomes:
82% of youth report having better grades
88% of youth plan to attend college
95% of youth are more active
91% of youth have a positive self-image
88% of youth feel good about how others see them
89% of youth report being good at problem-solving
90% of youth feel positive about their futures
Our mentors often say that when they signed up, they thought of this as a way to give back, but along the way they discover how much they have changed and how much the experience has given to them. One recently graduated mentor said, “I thought mentoring was a one-way street.” Another one said, “I can’t imagine my life without you now.”
The Bolder Difference
Bolder Options’ mentoring program is different from other youth mentoring programs because:
We focus on middle school youth, working to put an additional positive adult in their lives at a critical time
Youth set and pursue goals while in the program vs. just spending time with a mentor going to the movies or a game
Our mentor pairs meet every week for a year vs. once or twice a month like most other mentoring programs
Living a healthy, active life is the theme that ties our program together