ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State Univerisity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, and the St. Cloud Area School District have partnered together to bring a mentoring initiative to St. Cloud State, to encourage young kids to continue their education beyond high school.

However, this isn't going to be your typical bigs and littles match. Instead, the partnership will be between South Junior High students in an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class and administrators/staff from St. Cloud State.

The AVID program works primarily with students of color, low-income families, and first-generation college students.

For 12-months,14  AVID seventh-grade students will meet twice a month with 14 staff/administrators from St. Cloud State. 

The meetings will take place in Atwood at St. Cloud State for 40 minutes to one hour. 

Rachel Johnson, a recruiter for Big Brothers Big sisters says, the partnership between these three organizations came along when Big Brothers Big Sisters mentioned the idea to former President Earl H. Potter III. 

"Our program director had found out that other agencies in the U. S. were trying out this bigs on campus idea, where they were taking staff or administrators from college campus's and partnering them with near schools. So when we approached President Potter, he was more than happy to bring it to St. Cloud State says Johnson".

After the unexpected death of President Potter in June, Big Brothers Big Sisters decided to name the mentoring initiative Dr. Potter's Bigs on Campus Mentoring Initiative in honor of him.

St. Cloud State University President Earl Potter, photo courtesy of SCSU

The first meeting will kick off on October 5, and all three organizations are excited to work together.

Communications Coordinator, Community Education for District 742, Jennifer Noble, says it's important for these young kids to have mentors in their life at this age.

"It is important that they have a mentor at this age, so they can have someone to talk with and learn from. It also helps their overall performance in school and helps boost their confidence. It's a great benefit for the students to have someone partnering with them and helping them side by side says Noble".

The mentors will engage with their mentees by showing them the college campus, doing group activities and visiting various departments around campus.

St. Cloud State's Associate Director of Civic Engagement Beth Knutson-Kolodzne says, the earlier the students can learn about higher education, the better chance they will pursue it after high school.

"For St. Cloud State, this is one of our ways that we can impact the community, impact lives, and also fulfill our mission to Do, Think, and Make a Difference, says Knutson-Kolodzne".

In the end, the organizations hope they can lessen the fear of college to the middle schoolers. Transportation for the South Junior High School Students is being donated by Spanier Bus Service.