Mentors at Cordova High (MACH)- Rancho Cordova, CA

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Community vision and values, Education and youth
  • Engagement Approaches Engaging traditionally marginalized groups, Leadership programs, Youth Engagement
Project Description

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Mentors at Cordova High (MACH) 

US News and World Report painted a discouraging picture of Cordova High School, scoring its college readiness rating at 1.7 out of 100. The in-house suspension teacher sought to turn these statistics and the lives of the students around with a mentorship program.


  • Provide mentorship and volunteer opportunities to at risk youth.

 Project Summary:
Conrade Mayer ran the In-House Suspension program at Cordova High School, and after a few years of daily contact with students labeled as “trouble-makers,” he discovered these students were not just causing problems in the classroom, they had been discarded by pretty much everybody.

He rounded up a group of his fellow CHS alumni, and with the help of his wife, began an informal mentoring program. Trading youth participation for tangible benefits—like otherwise unaffordable tickets to the prom or a yearbook—Mayer began showing up at community events and work days with a small army of previously written-off students. Slowly, the crew began to make a name for themselves around town as they provided muscle at neighborhood cleanups, helped tear out unsightly chain link fences, planted trees, and set-up tents and tables at community events.

Rewards included trips to college campuses, science centers, even natural caves and the beaches of the Pacific Ocean – enrichment they had never before experienced.  Pizza and movie tickets were currency, and adult mentors were always along for the ride.  Teachers noticed changes in MACH members, and referred more students they believed would benefit.  The crew was now at 50—and growing.

Mentors at Cordova High (MACH) was soon formed into a 501c3 nonprofit. With help from the school district and the city, grant funding was made available to tackle problems of school attendance and grade improvement. 

Engagement Strategies
The project engaged adults as mentors, businesses as funders of rewards and the school as a grant partner. Most importantly, the students themselves were involved with the planning and vision of the nonprofit.

Results have been staggering—a 41% increase in MACH participants’ overall GPA, a decrease in truancy levels, and over 1,200 hours of community service logged. 

Additional Resources:
Rancho Cordova, CA- 2019 AAC Winner: Presentation

Local Contact:
Conrade Mayer
Executive Director
Mentors at Cordova High (MACH)
(916) 247-8242

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