Our Next Generation, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization that promotes the academic and character development of children living in central city neighborhoods, is in need of at least 25 volunteers to fill tutoring and mentoring roles in its Homework Club.
Through the club, Our Next Generation provides after-school help to kids struggling to understand and keep up with their studies.
Our Next Generation has recently seen an influx of students needing its services, in part due to the city’s growing population of Somalian refugee families with children whose success largely depends on extra academic attention.
The nonprofit’s base of students has also increased because of the organization’s strong identity in the community, said Robert Dunn, chief executive officer of Our Next Generation.
“As our reputation grows and more and more families learn of us, there (are) more families signing up than we have the capacity to help,” Dunn said.
With the influx comes an urgent need for volunteers. The organization currently relies on about 120 volunteers to facilitate the Homework Club, which operates Monday through Thursday evenings. On average, the club sees 60 to 70 students each evening.
Our Next Generation has found additional support for students through its Outbound Learning Program, in which it sends about 30 students a day to area companies, institutions and organizations for after-school tutoring and mentoring. But those students who remain at its center, located at 3421 W. Lisbon Ave., need volunteer support.
Volunteers are asked to participate at the center one night a week from about 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. during which they are assigned to a student for mentoring on top of tutoring.
The mentoring aspect is particularly important as many of the kids served by the organization face daily social issues in communities of extreme poverty.
The adults who come to help these kids, and who end up befriending them, are critical in helping them develop feelings of self-confidence and self-worth, Dunn said.
“By taking time to befriend a child and share values and aspirations and views of the world, children begin to perceive themselves differently and perceive the world differently,” Dunn said.
Interested Homework Club volunteers must complete an application process as well as a background check and an orientation before they are matched up with a student.
Additional volunteer opportunities at Our Next Generation include board member roles, committee member roles, and support for special events.
For more information about Our Next Generation and its need for volunteers, visit www.ongkids.org/volunteer.htm.