DANBURY, CT — The City of Danbury has awarded the Danbury Student and Business Connection a $50,000 grant to enhance operations and expand the mentorship program to serve more students.

DSABC has also won a $22,000 Internal Capacity Building Grant from Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. This grant will fund the development of a new database system, website redesign, and improvements to mentor recruitment and onboarding processes.

The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1990, connects mentors from City businesses to local elementary, middle and high school students who can best benefit from a positive adult role model providing moral support and encouragement. The end game is dropout prevention, through the improvement of academic performance, attendance, behavior, attitude toward school, self-esteem and motivation.

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“And at each school, we have a designated DSABC liaison,” DSABC executive director Alexis Koukos told Patch.”And usually that is a social worker or school psychologist who will find the students that are most in need, who are really struggling, or … need some extra support. They refer students to our program.

On the other side of the matchmaking are mentor volunteers from a wide and deep pool of businesses, including Linde, Cartus, the City of Danbury, and local banks, among many other DSABC partners. About 100 business mentors are participating in the program, meeting with students weekly during the school year, usually during the student’s lunch or study hall, for about 30-45 minutes. Mentors and their charges engage in a variety of activities including, not limited to playing games, working on academic assignments, setting goals or simply talking, listening and sharing experiences.

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“We always tell our mentors that they’re not there to pry or to judge, they’re just there to lend a listening ear, to offer some encouragement to really be a guide, a coach, and just a consistent person in this kid’s life,” Koukos said, “because it might be the only time that week they’re having an adult talk to them and be with them one-on-one, undistracted.”

Since 1997, DSABC has presented over 100 students with more than $150,000 in scholarships upon their graduation from high school. The scholarship can be applied to any post-secondary educational pursuit and is renewable for up to three years.

Business people interested in becoming mentors can inquire online at the DSABC website.

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