ST. CLOUD, MN (May 14, 2019) –
Since 2016, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud State University, and the St. Cloud Area School District have partnered in a unique opportunity for local youth, called Dr. Potter Bigs on Campus Mentoring Initiative. The mentoring program brings local youth to the university and immerses them in the possibilities of post-secondary education.
The late Dr. Earl H. Potter III, former President of St. Cloud State University, was a longtime supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters and an eager partner early-on in the initiative. His commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Bigs on Campus initiative inspired the program to be named in his honor. Students involved with the Dr. Potter Bigs on Campus Mentoring Initiative are bused to campus twice monthly to meet one-to-one with a caring, positive mentor. The mentoring matches spend their time together exploring campus, participating in on-campus activities, and touring different academic departments.
Dr. Potter’s daughter, Margaret, participates as a mentor in the program. His wife, Christine Potter, thinks the program is the perfect way to honor her late husband’s legacy. “Earl had such a big heart, and a vision for the way the world could be if we all just opened our hearts,” Christine said.
Since the pilot year, the program has quadrupled in size. It began with 13 mentoring matches during the 2016-2017 school year, and hopes to match 55 local youth during the 2019-2020 school year.
Last week, the program participants and community supporters gathered on campus to celebrate the conclusion of another successful year. St. Cloud Area School District Superintendent, Willie Jett, addressed the crowd stating “If you read the newspapers, if you check social media, in the last few weeks there’s moments in time where you can become frustrated with humanity, but when I look out into this room, it’s this thing, it gives us hope. It’s hope between young people who are thriving and wanting mentorship and wanting to be able to connect, and it’s nice to be able see that there are adults in the community that actually care about young people, the future, and the community.”
Many of the matches will continue in the program next year. The program will also introduce new students to this life-changing opportunity. With the addition of new youth to the program, comes the need for more mentors. Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director, Jackie Johnson, states “this program really speaks to those who have very busy after work hours and weekends. This program is twice a month, an hour per time, and it runs from September to May. It’s about a 20-hour commitment for an entire year, but it isn’t less than any other program as far as its impact.”
The initiative would not have been possible without the help of many dedicated community partners including: Spanier Bus Company, CentraCare Health Foundation, and Women’s Fund of Central MN. To learn how you can make a difference in the life of a child, please call (320) 253-1616 or visit www.BigDefenders.org.