By Aniaya Reed

The Frontier School of Innovation, through the New Frontier Educational Foundation, will benefit from the Kauffman Foundation’s Individual Schools Grant Program this year. The $250,000 grant also includes a full-time college counselor position and other opportunities for middle school students. The formal acceptance was signed on May 11, 2022.

The New Frontier Educational Foundation was created to provide special enhancements to Frontier students beyond what typical school boards provide.

“The grant was inspired by a belief that our students’ lives might be significantly enhanced by caring outside adults in their lives who develop a trusting relationship, and add a perspective that supplements and enhances inputs already provided by parents, teachers, counselors and others in their lives already,” Founder of Frontier Schools Gregory M. Rieke explained.

Mentors augment, but certainly don’t replace, the natural and valuable relationships between students, their families and staff.

“Effective mentoring has been an ongoing interest at Frontier for over 15 years,” Rieke said. “Our idea is to start it in middle school, carry it into high school and even to college. Eventually, we hope our mentors will stay involved with students into the career search phase of their academic lives to help them locate a great career of their choice.”

Diana Clarrin, the President of the Board of Directors of the New Educational Frontier Foundation, had a direct impact on the outcome of the grant acceptance.

“I helped Greg Rieke and one of the counselors at the school, and made suggestions and wrote sections for the application,” Clarrin said. “At the Foundation, we sup-port the schools. We raise funds, and we use those funds to do things such as support the awards for teachers, Kauffman Foundation KC Scholars Program, and also student projects.”

Poet T.L. Sanders is a Senior College Counselor and Program Director at Frontier Schools. He also arranged the grant application using his experience as a counselor.

“Essentially, I am the point person that is gathering the appropriate resources,” Sanders said. “My role is to connect the right people to make sure the mentees and mentors reach their full potential.”

The new counselor will be a special position at Frontier. It will elevate the STEM-focused education for students to assist in their passions and professions.

“The grant itself contributes to the mentor program, but partly it pays the salary of a college counselor,” Sanders explained. “That’s where the wealth of the money is going, to help navigate the relationship between the mentors and mentees. Mentors offer opportunities to expand and develop.”

Frontier Schools look into their students’ futures for long-term achievements and accomplishments.

“Our students are getting a really good education. We view it as our job to prepare them for jobs and universities and it’s up to them for the rest,” Rieke said.

This investment will be used to enhance the experience the students are receiving at Frontier. They will be able to access the counselor for their desired needs.

“Our students will learn to demonstrate, and learn their own talents. Research shows that mentoring plays a huge part in a teenager’s life choices,” Clarrin said.

The guidance counselor will be directly responsible for creating the program and establishing a caring environment, and benchmarks have been established with Kauffman for accountability.

In addition to the grant money, Frontier is also adding a mentorship program with the DeBruce Foundation via the Kauffman grant.

“We are also working in conjunction with the Agilities Program of Career Exploration developed by the DeBruce Foundation to enhance this endeavor, using great online technology that the mentors and mentees can use together online, in addition to face to face meetings at school,” Rieke said.

The new mentorship program and new counselor are set to make a positive change on students’ lives in the upcoming school year and beyond.

“The process will begin with group mentoring, as well as visits by outside professionals who are chosen from fields of interest indicated by our students,” Rieke said. “Then one-on-one mentoring, using the DeBruce Agilities pro-gram, will supplement these interactions between mentors and mentees.”

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