The Currens Story
Tom Osborne shares the story of Currens and how mentoring has a generational impact on youth and their families.
History of the Program
The TeamMates Program began in 1991 with the vision of University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife Nancy. Twenty-two football players met with middle school students in the Lincoln Public Schools. Coach Osborne felt that the athletes in his program could make an impact on the middle school students.
In 1997, the program was expanded to include 160 volunteer mentors from the Lincoln community who met with a student for one hour a week in the school setting. It was believed that these students could benefit from another caring adult in their life.
The TeamMates Mentoring Program was formalized as a statewide program in 1998 with 12 chapters and 441 mentor/mentee matches. Today, TeamMates includes 123 chapters serving more than 7,000 students in grades 3-12. TeamMates successfully partners with local school districts from the largest urban schools to some of the smallest and most isolated rural schools. The program matches a student with an adult volunteer mentor to provide one hour of individual mentoring each week during the school year. Activities during the mentoring hour range from homework assignments to sharing common interests to simply engaging in conversation.
The National Mentoring Partnership bestowed TeamMates of Norfolk with the “Mentor Spotlight Award” for outstanding mentoring. Catherine and Yvonne were honored in Washington D.C. as one of six outstanding mentoring pairs in the nation. TeamMates of Norfolk received a $2,000 award, Catherine received a $5,000 scholarhip and Evonne received a $500 award.
As a result of the Kellogg Foundation challenge the TeamMates Mentoring Program is being implemented in Johnston, Iowa. TeamMates is actively pursuing additional communities beyond Nebraska. Today TeamMates is represented in 70 communities with approximately 2,500 matches.
TeamMates worked to implement the challenge to expand its “Best Practices Model” to a national audience. We matched caring adult mentors with about 2,300 students, grades 4-12 in 67 communities. On April 18th, the first statewide Walk-a-Thon was held in 43 communities with over 3,000 volunteers participating. Statewide sponsors for the walk were Waitt Media, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, Affiliated Foods, and Lincoln Benefit Life.
TeamMates received a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to expand its “Best Practices Model” of school-based mentoring beyond Nebraska. There were more than 2,200 matches in 65 communities. TeamMates held its first major fundraising event at the Strategic Air and Space Command Museum with over 800 guests attending.
The funding period for the federal grant ended, and we began the process to develop and implement a fundraising plan. Implemented the first year of a formal on-line data collection system with The Gallup Organization.
TeamMates received its’ 501(c)(3) designation and began a two-year process to develop and implement a centralized accounting system to ensure accountability. TeamMates began collecting data for evaluation purposes and were beginning to find that mentoring was having an impact on a students academic performance, attendance and behavior in school. The data also reflected that the program was equally effective when implemented in rural and urban schools.
TeamMates received a $1 million federal grant with the funds allocated out to local chapters on a per match basis to support the mentoring relationship for two years. The organization developed the Program Management Manual containing its policies and procedures to guide operations.
TeamMates Mentoring Program initiated a grassroots effort as an affiliate fund with the Nebraska Community Foundation. There were 441 mentors in 12 chapters.
The Osbornes expanded the TeamMates Program through St. Mark’s United Methodist Church and Lincoln Public Schools. From October of 1997 through May of 1998 more than 160 young people in Lincoln were paired with adult TeamMates.
Tom and Nancy Osborne took notice of how different the challenges that today’s youth faced compared to the ones they faced and their children faced growing up. Their response was to make a difference through mentoring today’s youth. They teamed up 25 middle school boys in the Lincoln Public Schools with University of Nebraska football players. Of the original TeamMates, 22 stayed in the program with 20 graduating from high school and 18 continued on to post-secondary education.