Mentorship Program Empowers Youth

How Mentors are Helping our Students Shine

ASAS | 9 February 2024

Thanks to a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), our Rising Stars program is connecting hundreds of students across the country with year-round mentors.

Now entering its third year, Rising Stars has been introduced to 28 metropolitan communities across ten ASAS chapters where at-risk youth are struggling with multiple risk factors that contribute to juvenile crime and truancy. To date, the program has led to 73% fewer school suspensions and expulsions, there have been zero arrests among participants, and 83% of students report an improvement in their social skills and emotional health.

In Waiʻanae, a community served by ASAS Hawaii, Rising Stars is providing young men with trained mentors and meaningful opportunities to develop as individuals. Students at the chapter provided 5,000+ service hours last year, including projects with kupuna (seniors), animal shelters, elementary school students, campus beautification, canned food drives, vape prevention, and anti–bullying campaigns.

The tight-knit Waiʻanae community has experienced a sharp uptick in gun violence over the past year, and it’s currently experiencing the highest crime rate in Hawaii. Paula Fitzell, Executive Director at ASAS Hawaii, implemented Rising Stars to ensure that more local youth can connect with caring adults and receive resources and opportunities that help them explore their passions in a safe space. The chapter leans into football’s popularity, using the sport as a framework to build social skills and encourage character development. Currently, ASAS is the only organization providing free organized sports leagues for Hawaii’s middle school students.

“If I wasn’t in All-Stars, I’d probably mess around a lot, slip up on my grades. And I wouldn’t care about it, because there would be no one pushing me, like my friends or my coaches. Instead, I’m on the field, playing football at ASAS where I feel safe, protected. I’m doing something active and not somewhere like on the streets doing bad stuff, not making good decisions.” — Jayvionne 8TH GRADE STUDENT, ASAS HAWAII

Other chapters benefiting from the Rising Stars program include Atlanta, Cleveland, Columbus, Las Vegas, North Texas, Orlando, Philadelphia & Camden, Puget Sound, and Washington, DC. While all chapters provide Rising Star participants with activities and career preparedness resources, the curriculum for each chapter is customized to meet the specific strengths and needs of its communities.

Hear Coach Kaipo and Jayvionne share more about their experiences at ASAS Hawaii HERE.