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Mystic Aquarium Hosts Successful Peer Mentor Leadership Academy

In support of ongoing OJJDP grant-funded STEM Mentoring program

Mystic, Conn. (August 13, 2019): This summer, Mystic Aquarium hosted nearly 100 teen mentors from around the country during the inaugural Peer Mentor Leadership Academy (PMLA) as part of its STEM Mentoring program. Through a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Mystic Aquarium administers the conservation-based STEM Mentoring program to positively impact the social development and academic achievement of youth ages 6–10.

Peer mentors represented 13 states from coast to coast, including Connecticut and Rhode Island. A full list is available upon request.

The STEM Mentoring program matches small groups of youth from high-needs communities with adult and peer mentors to engage in high-quality, group activities in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“We are so excited to launch the PMLA as the newest initiative of our STEM Mentoring program,” said Katie Cubina, Senior Vice President of Mission Programs. “Peer mentors, when properly trained, are a tremendous asset to youth-serving organizations, and can fill the gap between the number of young people seeking mentors, and the number of mentors that are willing and able to make that commitment.”

The PMLA was created to bring together peer mentors from STEM Mentoring program sites across the country with the objective of increasing leadership and relationship-building skills among participants to enhance their effectiveness as peer mentors.

Programming of the PMLA was based at Mitchell College in New London, CT, just minutes from Mystic Aquarium. Daily activities consisted of engaging morning workshops on campus followed by afternoon outings in and around the Mystic area. The first day included a coastal field study and beach clean-up event. Leadership, communication, and goal-setting training took place on the second day. The final day of the training focused on mandatory reporting, community connectedness, and tools for supporting mentees affected by the opioid epidemic. Teambuilding and leadership activities that took place at Mystic Aquarium and Mystic Seaport rounded out the experience, and the event ended with a culminating celebration.

A total of six PMLA sessions were offered during the summer of 2019.

With the assistance of the peer mentors who attended the PMLA, the 2019 STEM Mentoring program will engage over 1,800 mentees and nearly 450 mentors at more than 50 youth-serving organizations in 26 states and Puerto Rico. Each organization receives a sub-award through the grant to support the implementation of the program.

In March, Mystic Aquarium hosted the 2019 STEM Mentoring National Training.

Since 2005, Mystic Aquarium has served thousands of youth at more than a hundred sites across the country through STEM-based mentoring programs funded by the Department of Justice. The most recent grant, awarded in 2018, provides funding for the STEM Mentoring program through September 2021.

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