Member Spotlight: Putting Relationships First
Community Education Partnerships provides one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, homework clubs, summer reading support, and backpacks, school supplies, and books to homeless and highly mobile youth in the Bay Area. Upon founding in 2010, CEP volunteers began providing mentoring and tutoring to homeless and highly mobile youth in Oakland and Berkeley. Since then, it has grown steadily and now serves students in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, Richmond, and Alameda.
We sat down with Erica Mohan the founder and Executive Director of Community Education Partnerships (CEP) to learn more about their work in the community, the challenges they face, and their passion for relationship building.
What makes Community Education Partnerships stand out?
What makes us stand out is also what makes the work that we do really hard. We are working with students where the only thing that they all have in common is housing instability. I think for a lot of organizations working directly with schools, the student population is there waiting for you. We often have to work really hard to access the kids we work with. It takes a lot of coordination to get the kids enrolled in our program and matched with the right tutor. What makes us different and unique is that we are the ones targeting this specific population with academic support.
What is CEP’s hidden talent?
I would say that our hidden talent is working with some of the hardest to reach students and trying to reach them on a deeper level. I do think that we really put a focus on relationships to the extent possible. We put the relationships of the volunteer and the student, the volunteer and the organization, and the student and the organization at the center. I believe that if those relationships aren’t there, then the learning doesn’t follow.
Do you have a favorite memory with a student or volunteer over the years?
One of the very first volunteers that I trained was paired with two brothers seven years ago. Every year we get an email from the volunteer saying that they are still meeting and working together. I think it’s amazing that those two boys have had this stable presence in their lives. We have kids who stay with us for a couple of years, which is amazing when you think about the fact that the only thing our students have in common is housing instability. I think it is just as amazing that we have students who have stuck with us since day one and I think it’s as amazing that we have volunteers who have also stuck with us.
Why did you decide to join the OLC Member Network?
I originally joined because it seemed like a great opportunity for funding support. When I go to the meetings they are so helpful and useful and I have made so many connections through the OLC, with other organizations and with individuals. This is brutally hard work so it is nice to see other people and see what they are doing, and for a lack of a better word, to commiserate with them. While I was attracted to the funding aspects at first, over the years I have gained a lot from the OLC through the events and networking opportunities. There is huge value in the information that the OLC provides.