ECS CARES is a mentoring program designed specifically for Elkhart students and community members. The program partners a caring community member with a student who needs a mentor, for 30 minutes per week at the child’s school.


Compassionate Adults Reaching Elkhart Students

ECS is home to over 12,000 Elkhart students who are  the heart, soul, and future of the Elkhart community. Their success depends on the support of teachers, administrators, school staff, parents, and community. Within every building at Elkhart Community Schools, there are children waiting for an incredible adult mentor.

Mentoring with CARES has many specific benefits:

  • All mentoring happens at the child’s school, creating a safe, upbeat environment for adult-child mentoring relationships.
  • Mentors can tailor their mentoring location and schedule to accommodate for work, with opportunities to mentor before, during, and after school.
  • Mentors are able to meet with their child in a place that is meaningful to the child, like the gym, art room, lunch room, or classroom. Mentors can easily get updates on academic achievements and behavior through conversations with teachers and administrators.


Why Mentor?

Five important reasons to mentor:

  1. Help someone realize their potential. We all have unique talents and gifts. Activating the potential in someone by celebrating their talents empowers them to improve their own life, achieve their goals, and help others.
  2. Give back to your community. The most impactful way to improve your community is to spend time investing in it. Mentoring youth in your community is a powerful way to invest in the next generation.
  3. Learn more about yourself. Meaningful relationships are a two-way street. Learn more about your strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, experience, and beliefs by sharing them with someone else.
  4. Change someone’s life. An intentional relationship has the power to alter a person’s life – particularly youth – for the better. You may be the only stable, positive impact in a youth’s life. The ripple effect is tremendous.
  5. Become a better leader. Investing in the life of someone else challenges your perspective, sharpens your interpersonal skills, and exposes you to different decision-making approaches. Mentoring gives you the opportunity to learn by doing.


Mentoring Benefits

The supportive, healthy relationships formed between mentors and mentees are both immediate and long-term and contribute to a host of benefits for youth and mentors.

  • Youth benefits:
    • Increased high school graduation rates
    • Lower high school dropout rates
    • Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
    • Better attitude about school
    • Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations
    • Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
    • Improved behavior, both at home and at school
    • Stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers
    • Improved interpersonal skills
    • Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use
  • Mentor benefits:
    • Increased self-esteem
    • A sense of accomplishment
    • Creation of networks of volunteers
    • Insight into childhood and adolescence
    • Increased patience, improved supervisory skills


Educational Impact

Mentoring has significant positive effects on two early indicators that a student may be on the right or wrong track in school:

  1. Attendance: Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class.
  2. Future-Focused: Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.

In addition to better school attendance and a better chance of going on to higher education, mentored youth maintain better attitudes toward school.


CARES Opportunities

The greatest need for ECS students is a traditional CARES mentor. CARES mentors are asked to meet with their child for 30 minutes per week. Many mentors choose to meet their child for lunch, while some prefer breakfast or later in the day. A mentoring relationship between a mentor and a child can include such things as academic help, behavioral support and encouragement, or a simple ear for the child that shows him or her that someone cares. Many mentors establish a mentoring relationship with their child that lasts through high school graduation. Long-term mentoring relationship have a tremendous impact on students.

For mentors who may not be able to commit to 30 minutes per week, there are short-term programs:

  • Real Men Read: a four-week fall program that encourages Elkhart men to read aloud to an  elementary classroom. This program helps show students a positive male role model.
  • Spring Into Reading: a four-week spring program that encourages Elkhart women to read aloud to a classroom, demonstrating caring adults in the community.
  • Reading Camp: an eight-week winter remediation program held immediately after school to assist specific students who need reading help.


Contact Information

Start making a difference in the life of a child today!
Contact Diane Lucchese, CARES Volunteer Coordinator
Phone: 574-295-4830, Email:

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