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Students Together Empowering Personal Success

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Mentor Resources
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Become a STEPS mentor and offer yourself as a resource, guide, support and listening ear for a Tacoma area student. STEPS mentors commit to meeting once a week with their mentee(s) to assist them in the college admissions process (including SAT prep, applications, writing essays, applying for financial aid, and finding scholarships) along with assisting in academic growth. Research shows that mentoring has a multitude of positive effects on youth and helps to strengthen communities.
STEPS mentors share knowledge and experience in navigating the process of high school graduation, college admissions and career exploration. This partnership offers a wealth of benefits including:

  • Leadership development and enhanced personal growth
  • Networking opportunities with peers, faculty, staff and community members
  • A greater sense of pride and belonging in one's community
  • A chance to make a significant difference in the lives of youth

STEPS mentors are currently serving at six schools within the Tacoma School District:

  • McCarver Elementary
  • Baker Middle School
  • Foss High School
  • Stadium High School
  • Mt. Tahoma High School
  • Lincoln High School

Each partnership offers a multiplicity of mentor settings, all of which are based off of the student’s need at each school. To learn more about mentoring dynamics and schedules at each school, feel free to contact the STEPS team. Available mentoring times currently can be viewed in the STEPS Application.

How Does It Work?

UW Tacoma STEPS mentors provide guidance and support to local Tacoma youth, many of whom will be the first in their family to attend college. Through our new school partnerships, mentors are also working with students across the K-12 system to provide early academic support. STEPS mentors and mentees meet throughout the academic year for mentoring sessions as well as engage together in local service opportunities. STEPS mentors draw upon personal experience and formalized training to provide their mentees with guidance and support in areas including:

  • Academic assistance
  • Life skills support and training
  • College and career preparation
  • Financial aid planning
  • SAT and WASL preparedness
  • College applications and essays

The Nuts and Bolts of STEPS

StudentsProgram Orientation:
When you become a STEPS mentor, you will attend an orientation designed to give you a deeper understanding of the challenges facing first-generation students. Orientations complement one's personal experience to provide a solid foundation for effectively supporting youth.

Program Placement:
UW Tacoma students are matched with mentee(s) who as much as possible share similar interests, as well as your schedule. Each school has different mentoring scenarios – some are more academic-based, where some allow more of an opportunity to build personal relationships with students. We strive to place mentors at schools that fulfill their expectations, but also provide opportunities for personal growth.

STEPS mentors receive on-going training to improve their mentoring capabilities. Trainings offer opportunities to improve one's leadership, communication and mentoring skills. Trainings are also an opportunity to connect with peers in the UWT community, share stories, and support each other.

On top of orientation and ongoing trainings, the STEPS team provides resources and support to mentors throughout their mentoring experience.


How Can I Get Involved?

A criminal background check is required in order to be matched with a high school student. To learn more about the University of Washington Tacoma STEPS Retention Project, please feel free to contact us!


University of Washington Tacoma
Diversity Resource Center
West Coast Grocery – Room 102
1900 Commerce Street, Campus Box 358409
Tacoma, Washington 98402-3100

The STEPS Project History

First-generation college students are defined as students whose parents do not have a college degree. Because these students face more educational barriers, they are three times more likely than their peers to leave college without earning a college degree. The University of Washington Tacoma, along with 14 other Washington state colleges and universities, partnered with Washington Campus Compact and AmeriCorps to institute The Retention Project, a program dedicated to bridging the achievement gap between first-generation college students and their peers. Roughly 1,600 Washington state college and university students serve their local communities as tutors and mentors for these high school youth every year.

STEPS is a retention partnership between UW Tacoma and community partners.

STEPS community partners

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