"Don't lead me; I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend."
The Kids Can Do! program was created in 1989 with the cooperation of community leaders, most of whom were involved with young people in Tacoma's Hilltop neighborhood. CIAC received initial funding from the Campus Partners in Learning through a grant funded by the Carnegie Foundation and an anonymous donor. The premise behind Kids Can Do! is to expose area youth to higher education by involving them in campus events and activities. Mentors strive to educate their child about the value of a college education and help them to understand their responsibility in obtaining that goal.
Today the program receives wide support from the student body in the form of fund-raising activities, organization of special activities and assistance in annual events such as Winterfeast, our winter holiday banquet.
Tacoma youth involved in the program are referred to CIAC by area schools, counselors, and currently enrolled families. In many cases, mentors retain their relationships during their college experience and many continue to have contact with their assigned child after graduation.
The development of a well-rounded relationship relies on exposure to varying situations so that each might learn to respond to one another in a positive and trusting way. The mentor, along with the child, arranges their time together to experience a wide variety of experiences. The CIAC staff sponsors for mentors and their children, at least one monthly activity which is organized by student groups and/or organizations. These events ensure that the mentors and the children enjoy a wide variety of experiences but also help alleviate any potential financial hardship on Puget Sound mentors. The program also offers periodic drawings and "give-aways" which enable attendance at local arts events, exciting sports activities, as well as providing opportunities for area educational opportunities.
Mentor support is critical to the growth of a supportive relationship. It is also one of the most demanding challenges faced by the CIAC staff. Mentors receive regular mailings containing information about special events and an online newsletter.
Mentors are required to spend approximately 4 hours a week with their child and attend organized training sessions coordinated by the CIAC office and program coordinators. These sessions are designed to assist the mentors in bridging any gaps between them and their assigned child. Speakers are secured from a vast pool of resources from the Tacoma community as well as faculty and staff from the University of Puget Sound.