Kids & Culture offer mentorship, guidance for local at-risk youth

University of Miami students in the Kids & Culture community service organization know that being a role model isn’t an easy task, and being one to a teenager is even harder because the teenage years can be extremely difficult and easily influenced.

Kids & Culture will be starting its new mentoring program this Friday by bringing a group of “at-risk” high-school students to the university. UM students are working this semester to be positive influences to high-schoolers.

“Sometimes it’s easier for them to open up to someone who is 4 years older than them rather than someone who is 20 years older,” K&C president Caroline Levens said during a phone interview

These teens are considered “at-risk” because of the school they attend or the family situation they are in. These high-schoolers choose to sign up and take part in K&C to put them in a better environment.

“It’s students that want the help; they’re not forced into the program,” said Christa Hunt, mentoring chair for K&C.

The organization is part of UM’s Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development, which gives students the opportunity to get involved in the community.

In the new mentoring program, 11 high-school seniors are being matched up with UM students based on common interests. The students will visit the campus four times within the semester and each will get the chance to spend the day with their mentor.

“If they want to talk about college, family, life, that’s what the mentors are there for,” Hunt said.

The mentor program is being aimed to motivate high-schoolers to go to college and help them realize college is for everyone. Mentors will also be able to help with college readiness, including their college applications and applying for scholarships.

“We are showing them that anyone from any background can go to college and its more than just lectures,” Levens said. “We want to help them in any way to reach college.”

Their day will start on campus around 9 a.m. Friday and will end at 1 p.m. with lunch in one of the dining halls. They will be given a tour of the campus and see the Lowe Art Museum, the Wellness Center, UMTV, dorms and classrooms.

The mentoring is just one of K&C programs, others include UM students tutoring elementary kids every week 5 to 7 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, and once-a-month campus visits for middle schoolers, which involve workshops and tours. Any UM student can get involved in the Kids & Culture programs. The only requirement is a love of children.

“Through babysitting and being around kids I’ve always loved kids. Even when I was a kid I loved kids,” Hunt said.

The mission statement behind the K&C organization is, “through interactive workshops, tutoring, mentoring and campus visits to the University of Miami, Kids and Culture works to promote the idea that college is attainable for any person, regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic status.”

If you would like to become a mentor or get involved in any of the other K&C programs, you can email Caroline Levens at or Christa Hunt at