Oct 052011
Authors: Blair Carpenter

Picture this: a three-credit class you only have to attend once a week with the main objective being to have fun in constructive and encouraging ways. This isn’t a figment of your imagination, but a class at CSU called Campus Corps.

And while Campus Corps, an opportunity for CSU students to mentor at-risk youth in the Fort Collins community, has had a successful few years, the program is now experiencing changes in funding.

Campus Corps began in Fall 2009 through a serve and learn grant. The grant, however, only covers three years of expenses because it was designed as a pilot grant to help test and develop the program.

This spring is the last semester that Campus Corps will be funded solely through the grant.

 Eventually the program may move to scholarships, charging small service fees and partial grants for funding, but as of now they have a more direct plan.

Campus Corps administrators are planning to set up a fund on the Campus Corps website where anyone can donate online.  However, the fund will not be set up until community members donate at least $1000.

“[Campus Corps] is an opportunity to work with youth who need someone,” said junior human development and family studies (HDFS) major Allyn Cripe, who is also a mentor coach and student intern for the program. “You form such a unique relationship with a teenager; you get to be really close.”

At-risk students aged 10-18 are referred to Campus Corps, usually directly from Larimer County schools.  

The undergraduates who take the class mentor a youth once a week for four hours, taking them on tours of campus, helping them with schoolwork, eating dinner with them and then doing a fun activity that the mentors organize. Activities range from baking to origami to dodge ball.

“You see a kid struggling and having a hard time, then after coming here they’re having fun, getting their grades up, and they have the biggest smiles,” said graduate instructor Amy Quinn, who is pursuing her PhD in Applied Developmental Science. “Their whole mood seems lighter.”

In addition to mentors, students can be mentor coaches that oversee groups of mentors and mentees while graduate students can be instructors for a night, similar to the TAs that teach science labs.  The current faculty instructors are Jen Krafchick and Toni Zimmerman.

Graduate students who help with Campus Corps also receive therapy hours to help with their degree plan.

The program currently involves about 150 students and 150 youth, with 30 to 40 youth attending mentor sessions on any given evening.  There are over 40 different majors represented in the program, though the most popular are HDFS, health and exercise science, psychology, Spanish and family and consumer sciences.

To make a contribution to Campus Corps, contact Toni Zimmerman at toni.zimmerman@colostate.edu.

Collegian writer Blair Carpenter can be reached at news@collegian.com

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