Sisters Circle is a Baltimore-based nonprofit that believes in the power of mentorship. It pairs sixth-grade girls with dedicated, one-to-one adult women mentors who provide a consistent, weekly presence in the lives of these young girls throughout their middle and high school years. Through the generosity of philanthropic partners like All Points North Foundation, Sisters Circle combines social-emotional learning with one-on-one mentoring meet-ups, monthly mentor-mentee activities, summer enrichment experiences and mentor training to build a network of support for students. The program is designed to help address long-standing, systemic health, wellness and social disparities for girls in underserved communities, disparities made even greater throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results indicate that the model is creating positive change: 98% of Sisters Circle students have graduated from high school, with the remaining 2% earning their GEDs, and 92% of Sisters Circle graduates are either attending or have graduated from college or an alternative workforce training program.

But perhaps the best way to understand the impact of Sisters Circle is through the words of one of its students. Meet high school sophomore Jayla who shared her thoughts about her Sisters Circle journey and her relationship with her mentor, Sam.

“When I first met Sam I was very nervous. I was nervous, because I didn’t know her, and I didn’t know if we were going to get along. I could tell Sam was a very nice person. Just looking at her gave me positive energy. Talking with Sam was easier than I thought, but at the same time it wasn’t exactly easy. I was very shy, but as I talked with Sam, I felt more confident and open.

 

One of my most memorable experiences with Sam was during a time when I wasn’t doing well in school. I felt like giving up, and I almost did, until she gave me an encouraging, yet stern talk. She reminded me that I am stronger than any obstacle in my path, and that if I give up now, I’ll never know what I could have achieved.

 

Some of my favorite Sisters Circle group activities were the Escape Room and roller skating. I loved the Escape Room. I learned how to better solve puzzles and to even work with a group of people that I may not have met before. Now roller skating was crazy! The number of times I fell was definitely something, but in the end I learned more about myself. I learned that while I can’t skate well, I love to try new things. I also learned that falling is part of the process of getting better.

 

Ever since I joined Sisters Circle and met Sam, I’ve been exposed to many new things. I’ve met people from different backgrounds and cultures and participated in activities that I never thought I would love. I never would have gone to summer camp if it wasn’t for Sisters Circle and Sam. Sisters Circle has also exposed me to colleges. I’ve always thought about going to college, and now I have a few ideas of where I might want to attend. 

 

Sisters Circle has helped me grow in the ways of being confident, wiser and stronger. If it wasn’t for Sisters Circle I would have been in a bigger, public school, barely passing, but because of Sisters Circle I am at a school where I can get individualized support. My high school shows me different ways of doing things, and Sisters Circle continues to open my eyes to different cultures and experiences as I continue to grow.”

And Sam, Jayla’s mentor, shared her perspective here on Jayla’s persistence through the unfamiliarity of her first summer camp experience:

“Although Jayla really liked the camp, she was out of her comfort zone and said she wanted to go home. With encouragement and support, Jayla rose to the challenge.  When I picked Jayla up on the last day of camp, she glowed with pride and shouted “I love you guys” out of the car as we pulled away. Camp was everything I hoped it would be for Jayla and I am SO proud of her. It definitely was a journey. She continues to grow and blossom into an incredible young woman. She didn’t stop talking the whole way home about how happy she was. Two weeks with no phone, no tv and not knowing anyone! She took creative writing, art and hip hop dance class. She even performed a choreographed group hip hop routine in front of 150+ campers and staff. This life- changing experience would not have been possible without the help of Sisters Circle donors!”

If you’d like to join with Sisters Circle to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of young students like Jayla, please consider getting involved as a mentor or making a gift to Sisters Circle today.  For more information about All Points North Foundation, click here https://bit.ly/3tBtc5Y.