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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

TAT2U Gaining Support for Fall Semester Pilot

The UMB community continues to rally in support of TAT2U, transcending cultural barriers and fiscal trepidation, said Jenna Alderton, founder and coordinator of the project.

Youth in foster care who want to go to college “age out of the system” without family support, community connections, housing, healthcare and employment. This can make postsecondary education appear unattainable to them, explained Alderton. TAT2U (pronounced “tat-too”) is a quickly growing project at UMass Boston that provides an intervention for an overlooked population of young people by synergizing community resources, mentoring and the power of technology.

“The purpose of the program is to connect youth [in foster care] with healthy adult mentors who will remain connected to them, help them explore their own values, carve out their identity and work with them to create a vision for their life,” said Alderton. “That includes higher education.”

Seed funding from the Student Senate, the Undergraduate Research Committee and Chancellor Motley’s Office, along with the collaboration of centers and clubs on campus such as the Psychology Honors Club (who has adopted TAT2U as its spring volunteer project) has proven an effective mechanism for fueling momentum. With the integration of online sources such as SA Groups and Facebook, the word about TAT2U’s mission is getting out.

“At this point, we are organizing and planning to run a summer trial program, then a fall pilot program,” Alderton said.

This project, created in August of 2008, is rapidly growing in popularity, and is beginning to be recognized on campus. Upon building an advisory board made up of UMB students, alumni, faculty, staff, administration, former foster youth, and members of the child welfare system, the project began growing faster than Alderton hoped.

“Because there are so many people involved it made more sense to slow it down,” Alderton said about pushing back the launch of TAT2U as a pilot program from this spring to the fall 2009 semester. The project is currently planning for the long term and is sacrificing more than time for the sake of its upkeep. Alderton, a senior at UMB, also pushed back her graduation to ensure the project’s full development and avoid launching prematurely.

Private agencies, non-profits and government organizations have shown interest as Alderton has already spoken to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and will be attending the Child Welfare League of America’s national conference this month in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve never done anything of this caliber,” said Alderton, “no one is being paid, no one is earning credit…the extent to which people are selflessly committed to the project’s success is extraordinary and exemplifies the very spirit of service.”

“Our goal is to provide an intervention while raising awareness about the issues,” said Alderton. “This growing group are at high risk of becoming homeless, desperate, incarcerated or otherwise; talent is being lost. Systemic barriers will continue to inhibit access and opportunities to success for these young people until our communities take ownership.”

Anyone interested in learning more about TAT2U can stop by TAT2U’s temporary home, CC, 3rd Flr, room 3001, email [email protected] or visit on the web at http://web.me.com/useyourvoice.

What’s a TAT2U Mentor made of??Current UMB student?Familiar with child welfare system?Can commit to 7 months, minimum 4 hours a week ?Currently earning Satisfactory Academic Progress ?Active with academic and extra-curricular activities?Familiar with campus?Proud advocate for youth ?Confident working with at-risk youth in large and small groups?Ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds?High self-efficacy ?Works independently?Demonstrates proficient computer skills?Comfortable in leadership roles?Give/receive individual and group supervision and feedback?Assist in the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of overall program

Accepting applications for mentors March 2-27, 2009. Will accept proposals for independent study or non-paid internship. Mentor selection finalized by April 1. For more info email: [email protected]

Information Sessions:-Mondays 1-2p & Wednesdays 5-6p through the month of March @ TAT2U’s temporary space, Campus Center, 3rd Flr rm. 3001.1-Must be willing to participate in the research component of the project