Shaping the Future:
The UPAASF Mentoring Program

I. Rationale

Mentoring Programs have been with us for sometime. With over 2000 programs statewide, these programs attempt to create life changing interventions for at-risk or "disadvantaged" children so that they can become (more) productive members of society. At the core of these programs is the goal to address two (2) basic issues namely a) Problem behaviors -- drop out rates, gang violence, drug-alcohol use and teen pregnancy and b) improving academic performance. Today, we continue to bear the unwanted consequences of these behaviors in our everyday life.

Department of Education


California Department of Education


California Academy of Sciences


WestBay Center

Filipino-American kids are no exception. We have our share of problems - underachievement, low test scores are on top of the list. Equally noticeable is the low interest (and enrollment) in math and sciences. We are lagging behind in science and technology. Other factors such as the seeming apathy of parents, the difficulty in getting scholarship grants and just the high cost of education compound the situation. Add to this -- worsening unemployment and the uncertain job market where (traditional) jobs are phased out, if not, permanently lost and you get the picture -- we are losing high-end jobs and opportunities -- unfortunately to other minority groups. Left unchecked, our children will be headed for low value, "dead end" jobs. With much at stake, we need to act -- decisively.

II. The Challenge

Even with well time-tested methodologies, outcomes vary - especially along ethnic lines. Results can be unpredictable - a "hit or miss" situation, sometimes with marginal results -- and definitely long gestation periods. Success parameters are multifaceted and sometimes difficult to pinpoint - more so, measure. Overall, there are challenges to be met along the way. However, the choice is clear and "doing nothing" is not an option.

Addressing such a complex challenge is no "walk in the park". It will require experimentation - trying out the best means to develop interest in the sciences. It will demand (extra) time and commitment not only from our youth but also the parents -- by getting them aware and actively involved in the process - whether it be attending "getting familiar" science seminars or the simple task of driving kids to a tech museum, science camp or meeting their peers. It will mean coordinating with the schools, other advocacy groups and the business sector - relaying feedback to teachers or arranging (or obtaining) scholarships/sponsorships or job internships from (high tech) companies. And lastly, it will need dedicated professionals - who can mentor and steer aspiring kids to academic excellence. The UPAASF and its members can be harnessed for this purpose.

III. The UPAASF

The UPAASF is a non-profit organization composed of graduates from the University of the Philippines. Active in the SF/Bay Area Filipino community for many years -- its members are highly trained professionals with MS & PhD's. Many are employed in Silicon Valley companies - some occupying key management positions. Others have successfully built their own businesses. The UPAASF believes -- with its wealth of experience, it is primed to respond to this challenge. It must do its share.

IV. Goals of the UPAASF Mentoring Program

  1. To create awareness and interest in science and technology courses and careers
  2. To encourage, motivate, and guide Filam youth to take up Science and Technology courses in college and pursue careers in science and technology

V. Target Beneficiaries

Primary: 7th and 8th Grade Filam Students from the SF/Bay Area
Secondary: 10th and 11th Grade Filam students from the SF/Bay Area

VI. Objectives

  1. EXPOSURE. To provide target beneficiaries short-term interventions such as "first experience " lab visits, workshops, internships, and job-shadowing that will motivate them to pursue college courses in science and technology
  2. MATCHING. To identify organizations, institutions, or companies that offer college scholarships, education finance, and assistance and match them with deserving and interested Filam youth
  3. RESOURCE POOL. To organize a pool of resource persons and information oriented in the sciences and make these available to target beneficiaries
  4. To graduate 10 students of Science and Engineering majors by the year 2016.

VI. Strategies

  1. Recruitment:
    • Build a core group of mentors.
    • Recruit talented and experienced mentors in targeted fields
    • Orient and brief them on the program goals
    • Sign them in
  2. Role modeling and counseling
    • Provide the option of a "person-to-person" or e-counseling.
    • Develop "rules of contact and engagement"
    • Match mentors to mentees
    • Hold regular monitoring and assessment sessions with kids and parents
  3. Open doors
    • Hold "first experience" science and technology tours and seminars.
    • Identify companies and resources (museums etc.)
    • Sponsor or hold science camps, internships or tours
  4. Resource mobilization I:
    • Steer mentees to organizations and learning institutions promoting science and technology
    • Identify these institutions and organizations
    • Co-sponsor and support projects
    • Create a healthy "peer to peer" environment among mentees
  5. Resource Mobilization II
    • Steer mentees to scholarships and/or job internships
    • Work with the business sector for scholarships/sponsorships and/or job internship
    • Recommend mentees to the business sector.

It's time to take action. Be a mentor.