LOS ANGELES (July 31, 1998) --It began in 1992 as a way of giving back to the community after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. At that time, no one could predict how successful the Youth Employment and Development Mentoring Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center would become. Andrea Perry, Employee Development Coordinator at Cedars-Sinai, will be a speaker at the seventh National Leadership Forum on School-to-Career-Transition on July 29 in Orlando, FL. Perryís opening session presentation will focus on this unique mentoring program that integrates YOUTH MENTORING WITH YOU EMPLOYMENT and how it results in win-win-win opportunities for inner-city high school students, employers (in this case, the medical center) and the community.

To date, 300 Fairfax High School juniors and seniors, many from at-risk environments (single-parent homes, economically disadvantaged, etc.) have participated in the program, earning not only high school graduation credits, but also valuable job skills and an income. According to Perry, mentees work approximately 16 hours per week at the medical center, for which they are paid minimum wage the first year, and $6 per hour in their second year of the program.

A graduate, herself, of Fairfax High School, Perry derives special satisfaction from helping young people at her alma mater. ìI tell the students Iíve been there, done that,î she says of the challenges they face in getting an education and finding jobs. I tell them, ìIf you want to get something out of this program, you have to give 100 percent. You have to work for it. Nothing will be handed to you on a silver platter.íî And Perryís direct approach works.

(more) Approximately 30 to 35 percent of mentees are eventually hired full-time or part-time by the medical center after they complete the program. In addition, 98 percent of program participants graduate from high school and an estimated 95 to 98 percent go on to higher education. (According to the Los Angeles Unified School District, approximately 51 percent of all graduates in the district go on to attend a two-year or four-year public college.) ìOne of our first mentees has completed nursing school and is now back at Cedars-Sinai working as a scheduling nurse,î says Perry. ìAnother is attending UCLA pursuing a career as a hematologist.î

Perry emphasizes the three components that make up the program: (1) work; (2) school; and (3) mentoring. ìThe work-based part of our program is provided by the job opportunities made available by the medical center,î she says. The school-based component is provided through a special Health Academy Class which is offered cooperatively by the medical center and Fairfax High School. The mentoring component is provided by 50 hospital employees who donate their time to provide guidance and support to the students. Participation in the program requires a two-year commitment from both mentors and mentees, and virtually every area of the medical center is represented, from Pulmonary to Anatomic Pathology, Human Resources, Imaging, OB and more.

ìThis year,î says Perry, ìwe have 22 slots available and 47 applications. Our mentoring program is part of the Hospital Youth Mentoring Network, which is comprised of 15 hospitals nationwide, including Johns Hopkins Hospital and other highly renowned facilities,î she adds. The Cedars-Sinai mentoring component, which was initially funded in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund/Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, is the networkís only program on the West Coast, and is believed to be the only hospital-based mentoring program which actually provides mentees with part-time, paying jobs.

Carol Truscott, Principal at Fairfax High School, hopes that other schools and organizations will form similar partnerships. ìItís a wonderful opportunity, and Iíd like to see other businesses and organizations forming partnerships of this kind,î she says. ìAs schools, we need to take advantage of every opportunity like this. Students learn in many different ways. Itís not a cookie cutter process.î In addition, says Truscott, being mentored by someone from Cedars-Sinai adds a level of maturity to students because theyíre actually in the ëworld of work - living their learning.íî Truscott also notes that the concept of adults giving back to their community through mentoring makes an impression on students. ìThe idea of adults involving themselves and giving back is very powerful,î she says. ìThe students see this and are likely to give back too.î

Although the grant helps cover the costs of the mentoring component, menteesí salaries are not included in this funding, but are paid directly by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. During the summer months, the city of Los Angeles participates with the medical center in the program by paying some studentsí salaries.

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COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS: Giving back to a troubled community - Started after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Cedars-Sinai Medical Centerís Youth Employment and Development Mentoring Program has provided ìearn while you learnî opportunities for 300 Fairfax High School juniors and seniors -- and itís still going strong. This program is unique because it integrates youth mentoring with (paid) youth employment.

EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS: More than 98 % of Cedars-Sinai mentees graduate from high school, and an estimated 95-98% go on to higher education. One has already completed nursing school and returned to Cedars-Sinai as a scheduling nurse.

BUSINESS HIGHLIGHTS: 30-35% are hired full- or part-time by the medical center after graduation, providing the hospital with skilled and experienced employees. As one mentee recently described it, ìthis program gives you a sense of maturity, responsibility and confidence.î

NATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: The Cedars-Sinai Youth Mentoring Program was featured in the opening session presentation at the National School to Work Conference in Orlando, FL last month. Speaker: Andrea Perry, Cedars-Sinai Medical Centerís Employee Development Coordinator.

B-ROLL: VHS footage of Cedars-Sinai mentors, mentees and program leaders is available.

INTERVIEW/PHOTO OPPS: Andrea Perry, David Gomes, Tamika Bissoondial, Roderick Givens, Nethtalia Aldana, others

FEATURE STORY: David Gomes is a hospital employee whose first mentee has already graduated from the program, and is attending a Southern California college. Another of his mentees who has completed the program is now a medical center employee, and he is presently mentoring a third individual who is currently in the program. As a point of interest, Gomes is also continuing to mentor the college student and the hospital employee, even though they have graduated from the program. Gomes and all three of his mentees are available for interviews.

QUOTABLE MENTEE QUOTES: . . . ìI live on 21st street. Someone was killed on 25th, 24th and 20th streets, so I thought it wouldnít be long before someone was killed on one of the other streets near me. Before I had no goals. I didnít even think about what Iíd do after high school. Working here, I figured out that I need a degree.î

. . ìBefore Cedars-Sinai, (I) wasnít really about school, but about hanging out with my friends. But with friends, you canít get anywhere. With an education, you can.î

. . . ìI live in South Central, so every day itís a 1-1/2 hour drive home after work, then I do my homework and help my brothers. I have to be disciplined.î

. . . ìHere (on the job at Cedars-Sinai) weíre treated with respect. . . like employees. . . like adults.î . . .

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