Becoming a Boys Hope Girls Hope scholar is a fantastic accomplishment, yet it comes with high expectations and hard work. Each incoming class of sixth graders is attending a new and challenging school, with increased homework plus Boys Hope Girls Hope programming. Although it can be overwhelming, BHGH staff is with them and their families for every new challenge they face.

Now imagine that you are facing all of these new challenges that come with being a BHGH scholar, and then everything is turned upside down with the onset of COVID. Schools closed and moved to online learning, after-school activities were canceled, and all social interactions halted outside of your nuclear family. BHGH staff quickly moved to make sure scholars had internet, school supplies, and increased scholar and family check-ins to make certain scholars were focused and on track.

Still, some scholars were struggling with this new reality.

Yareli, a new sixth grader, was struggling with being online all the time. Boys Hope Girls Hope of AZ was new, and her rigorous Jesuit middle school was new. She is a very social person who was now stuck at home attending school, doing homework, and participating in after-school activities and clubs all on the computer.

Celina, BHGH of AZ collegian, and Dorrance Scholar, needed many community service hours for her scholarship. Yet, it was challenging because of the lack of volunteer opportunities available during the pandemic.

We matched Celina up with Yareli as a study buddy and let her know that she really just needed someone to talk to. Celina had benefitted from a strong mentor from the community when she was a younger scholar and wanted to give back to new scholars. Yareli’s grades went up, she was happier, and she persisted through the program and is now doing well as a 7th grader!

This relationship was such a success; we matched all sixth graders with collegians this year. We saw deep relationships be formed that benefitted not only the sixth-grader, but the collegians as well!

It is invaluable for younger scholars to connect with older scholars who share how they have learned and utilized resiliency skills to persevere through some of the same challenges. This is an example of how Boys Hope Girls Hope activates being people for others!