Keeping Our Youth Connected
In December of 2022, our corporate name changed from Fathering Fathers, Inc. to R.E.A.L. Youth Connections, Inc. (RYC) to better represent our mission and the middle school communities we serve.
RYC is the guiding arm of the REAL Mentors Program that provides middle school students the opportunity to experience mentoring in a group setting.
School Psychologist Jake Milano designed the program in coordination with Mike Sanford of Fathering Fathers, Inc. and staff from Boys To Men New England. Over his 25 years at Tahanto, where Milano counseled students of all ages, he realized for many of these students something was missing. Often, it was the presence of a significant role model at a time in their lives when they were struggling to establish their own identity.
In May of 2011, the REAL Mentors Program for boys was initiated at Tahanto Regional Middle/High School in Boylston, Massachusetts which also serves students from the town of Berlin. In 2014 the program expanded to include the Clinton Middle School (CMS) boys.
Then in September of 2020, the REAL Mentors Program expanded to also serve the girls at CMS. Modeled after the boys’ mentoring program, it provided young women a venue for open, honest, and frank discussions. Women from the local community volunteer to serve as mentors to the girls.
March of 2023 will mark the start of the girls’ program at Tahanto, thanks in large part to a generous grant from CREST Technology, Inc., a Boylston based company, and the guiding hand of Mary-Sarah Loosemore, director of girls’ programs.
We refer to the men and women who volunteer in our program as ‘REAL Mentors’. REAL is an acronym that stands for the core values we hold and demonstrate through our program; Respect, Engage, Acknowledge, and Listen.
When we come together and honor these values, we are all better able to learn from one another. The mentors and mentees alike benefit greatly as they join in group discussions, games, projects, and the occasional field trip. Each element of a REAL Mentors meeting creates an opportunity to practice, experience, and internalize our REAL core values.
R.E.A.L. Youth Connections, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) and is committed to sharing the experience and success of this program with other school systems. Interested in starting a REAL Mentors Program at your school? Contact us here.