June 2011--The Incentive Mentoring Program (IMP) is a 501(c)3 that was founded in 2004 by Sarah Hemminger when she was a Johns Hopkins graduate student. Having earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2010, Hemminger serves as chief executive officer and president of the IMP.
IMP enrolls high school students during their freshman year, scouting out those who are failing to meet minimal academic requirements and have been recommended by the school administration because of challenges that they face outside of the classroom.
One-third of Baltimore children live in single-parent families and over 40 percent live in families with incomes only slightly above the federal poverty level, according to sources quoted by IMP. Many students have a parent or parents who are struggling to provide financially for their household. In the 2007-2008 school year, 41.9 percent of first-time ninth graders were chronically absent and 37.6 percent failed two or more core courses. Insufficient support and financial hardship make Baltimore’s youth particularly susceptible to absenteeism, scholastic apathy, drugs, gangs and ultimately failing to graduate high school.
IMP supports students in focusing on academics and community service, rather than basic survival. Each student is matched with a group of up to ten mentors who are referred to as an "IMP Family." This mentoring family works with the students through their remaining three years of high school, and four years of college, or equivalent experience.
IMP currently serves 79 students in five cohorts at two sites -- Paul Laurence Dunbar High at Orleans and Caroline streets, just around the corner from the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Campus; and the Academy for College and Career Exploration (ACCE), which is closer to the Homewood Campus. The Dunbar cohorts are: four years post high school graduation (cohort 1); one year post high school graduation (cohort 2); high school sophomores (cohort 3); and high school freshmen (cohort 4). High school freshmen comprise the ACCE cohort (cohort 5).
“We’ve been through incredible growth in last 18 months,” Hemminger says. “We went from 31 students and 200-plus volunteers working at one site to 79 students and 400 volunteers working at two sites. The last year has been completely game changing in terms of what we’ve been able to do.”
To date, 97 percent of IMP students have graduated from high school on time, and 94 percent matriculated to college. IMP students have performed thousands of hours of community service, primarily in Baltimore City. Since the founding of the program, more than 600 IMP volunteers have gained invaluable leadership experience, professional development and personal growth.
For more information: http://www.incentivementoringprogram.org/about
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