Mentorship program at Pontiac Academy for Excellence focuses on making lifetime impact

Pontiac Academy for Excellence (PAE), the only charter district in Pontiac to offer ninth through twelfth grades, and Winning Futures, a leading mentorship program in Michigan, are working together to change the lives of local students.

At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, 66 PAE students were chosen to participate in Winning Futures, a mentorship and scholarship program. Throughout the year, mentees attended an hour-long session once a week with their mentors. During the meetings, students were provided with tools needed to refine character building skills such as goal setting, conflict resolution, professionalism and self-awareness.
“Thanks to Winning Futures I learned how to express myself and have more confidence,” Lizannette, Rivera-Colon, an eleventh grade student at PAE and Winning Futures participant. “I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this program and am honored to be the recipient of the Winning Futures scholarship. While my time in the program has come to an end, I know this is the beginning of a better future.”
Outside of the walls of PAE, the 18 mentors made it a priority to reinforce the skills taught during the sessions and provide emotional support as their mentees faced real-world situations.
Amanda Rymiszewski, Lizannette’s mentor during the past school year, said “Lizannette has only lived in the United States for one year and she already has such a clear vision of her future because of the Winning Futures program. Seeing her and the other young women I mentor succeed is incredibly rewarding and heartwarming. I wouldn’t give up my experiences with Winning Futures for anything.”
Since the partnership between PAE and Winning Futures began in 2013, more than 140 students have participated in the mentorship program. An average of 95 percent of former mentees go on to pursue further education and training beyond high school.
About PAE:
Pontiac Academy for Excellence is a charter school district in Pontiac, Michigan, that supports the whole child, whole family and whole community in the pursuit of educational and life success. Founded by OLHSA, a Community Action Agency, in 1998 to offer a superior educational experience, PAE is the largest charter option in Pontiac, serving students from kindergarten through grade twelve. At PAE children and families are provided with the stability and resources needed to grow both in the classroom and beyond. Safety, respect, learning and community are the pillars of excellence honored by each student and the district.

About Winning Futures:
Winning Futures is an award-winning non-profit organization that empowers youth to succeed through mentoring and strategic planning.  We partner with high schools in metro Detroit to facilitate weekly innovative mentoring sessions in the school where we engage youth through trusting relationships with mentors, energizing experiences, and unforgettable life lessons. We focus on character value development, self-exploration, goal setting, job readiness skills, overcoming obstacles, and strategic planning.  Over 95 percent of students continue their education past high school and we have awarded over $1.7M in scholarships to local youth.  Since 1994, 39,000 students have been impacted by Winning Futures.