High school, with all of its pressures and the looming possibilities of what comes next, is a hard time. Kids’ minds are filled with the prospects of jobs both now and in the future, tests they may be taking, and questions about college and what they should study. This is an excellent time to show kids that others care about them.

Many schools have some sort of resource center, with varying amounts of information and contacts for students. With a little help from the adults in your neighborhood, you can provide even more. Make yourselves a resource for the kids.

Get as many people as you can in your neighborhood to write a short summary of what kind of work they do or what kind of job skills they have, along with contact information. Organize the information into a booklet to create a neighborhood resource center. If possible, create a Web version, too.

Kids in your neighborhood can use this resource to learn more about various occupations, find possible mentors, and participate in job shadowing experiences. This could also be used as a resource for kids to find cool summer jobs or internships!

Next, create a college resource. As with the job booklet, ask neighbors to write informational pieces on the schools they attended and the degree programs they majored in.

Helpful hint: With college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, kids will need help again. You can procure test-preparation books and software from Kaplan or The Princeton Review and provide them to students at a lower cost or for free.

Instant Intentions

Each of these resources acts as a way of connecting with neighborhood kids; it opens the door to relationships and gives an opportunity for youth to see local adults as people they can look to for help and guidance. Whenever possible, be willing to share faith experiences from your college days and professional career.

-          From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007.

Note: Another educational idea might be to organize a “field trip” for kids to local college campuses, such as MATC, Marquette University, UWM, or MSOE. Have neighbors who are alumni of these universities be the tour guides for the day – the kids may also be more comfortable asking questions to neighbors they know rather than a university representative. Also, stores such as Half-Price Books are great places to find SAT/ACT prep materials at a discounted price.   The outreach ideas in this column, in addition to building relationships, will also help high school students feel more confident about their post-graduation choices. Such confidence is invaluable during a life transition that evokes insecurity.  –  Lisa Jaeger, Director of Assimilation and Deployment