SOHO’s yearlong one-to-one mentoring fosters growth through engagement in life skills instruction, creative art and carpentry activities, healthy dinners and meaningful community service projects.
SOHO partners with local schools once a year to select the 12 girls for each program site. Girls are referred to SOHO by school staff, guidance counselors, social workers and teachers. Schools identify risk factors of each girl, including access to free and reduced lunch, low academic performance, and problems at school, in the community, at home and/or with peers. Girls are required to write an essay stating why they are interested in joining SOHO, and their number one reason must be to have a mentor. Program Managers visit each girl’s home to meet with families and complete interviews before youth are accepted into SOHO.
During the structured program year, SOHO participants receive instruction from a diverse group of Art League instructors, City employees, community volunteers and guest speakers, and SOHO offers new projects each year based on feedback from the girls and mentors. Girls and mentors meet once per week throughout the school year to enjoy dinner together, work on a creative arts project and participate in team-building activities. One week they might be constructing a shadow box, while another week they may be completing a lap desk or bean bag chair.
The first year of the program culminates in the renovation of each girl’s bedroom, HGTV & Trading Spaces-style. Girls decorate their spaces with the art and carpentry projects created during the SOHO weekly sessions as well as other items that they select with their mentors. Even though girls may share their spaces with siblings or parents, each youth ends the program year with a true “Space of Her Own.”
After the initial program year, girls and mentors receive lifelong membership in the SOHO Sisterhood and are invited to participate in the 2nd Year SOHO Club community-based mentoring program. SOHO Club participants engage in a variety of fun events and activities that promote long-term mentor/mentee bonds. Matches continue to work on life skills, come together for community service projects and engage in leadership development.
We are a strengths-based program: we recognize the unique attributes of each SOHO girl, help her develop her talents and encourage her to shine.