MMSD and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County Expand Mentoring Program

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County are expanding the SOL Mentor Program to Leopold Elementary and Cherokee Middle Schools. The SOL Mentor Program continues to serve Latino, Spanish-speaking students at Frank Allis Elementary and Sennett Middle Schools and aims to match an additional 75 students with adult volunteers in the community over the next three years.

The SOL Mentor Program (“SOL” originally stood for Southdale Outreach and Links) seeks adult volunteers with some Spanish-speaking ability to become mentors in the lives of participating students. Traditionally, two types of volunteers have stepped forward in this capacity: Latino adults hoping to share their experiences in adapting to a new culture and Anglo adults eager to form friendships across cultural lines. The SOL Mentor Program embraces both.
“We are seeking adults who are genuinely interested in helping Latino youth lead healthy lifestyles,” says Lesli Vázquez, SOL Program Coordinator, MMSD. Interested persons should call 663-5237.
Currently, the program is experiencing a growing need for positive male role models. Male students enrolled in the program experience an average waiting time of at least twice as long as their female classmates.
The SOL Mentor Program serves a total of 57 families in the Madison area by matching Latino, Spanish-speaking 4-8 graders with adults in the community. The matches participate in a variety of educational and cultural activities, and most importantly establish a trusting relationship.
“The expansion of the program is creating momentum in our volunteer recruiting activity and as a result, we will be able to serve more children,” says Stephanie Gadzik, Volunteer Recruitment & Marketing Coordinator for BBBS of Dane County.
The partnership between MMSD and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County has been a natural one. BBBS has been building meaningful relationships between adults and children in Dane County for more than 40 years. The SOL Program further enables the agency to extend its service to Madison’s fast-growing Latino community.
A special component of the SOL Mentoring Program is that volunteers have the opportunity to spend time with the children plus their families, in large community gatherings, sharing experiences and culture.
MMSD and BBBS of Dane County are implementing the SOL Mentoring Program with the assistance of several community partners. Bethel Lutheran Church, Dane County’s Joining Forces for Families, Centro Hispano, United Way of Dane County, Catholic Multicultural Center and the UW Office of Diversity and Community Initiatives each provide additional resources to the participating families, and help to recruit volunteer mentors for the program.
For more information on the SOL Mentoring Program, please log onto or contact the program at (608) 663-5237.
Ken Syke
Public Information
Madison School District
voice 663 1903; cell 608 575 6682; fax 608 204 0342