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State Honoree

Alison Zitron

New York

Alison Zitron, 18, of Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York, set in motion a creative mentoring and tutoring program for at-risk students in New York City. Kids to Kids was born out of Alison's desire to reach out to students who needed a safe environment to explore their imaginations, enjoy learning, and thrive with the friendship of teen mentors. To get her program off the ground, she connected with Mentoring USA, a national organization which uses adults to mentor at-risk students. Once she convinced its administrators that high school students would be appropriate mentors, Alison secured the endorsement and resources of Mentoring USA for her project. She recruited 15 fellow students to serve as mentors, and then selected a local neighborhood association to help recruit elementary students for the program. Kids to Kids met every other Saturday from October 1996 through May 1997, and provided arts and crafts lessons, help with school work, and friendship to ten young students. Alison, who worked to raise money to offset the costs of art supplies, has already begun to expand the program to two additional locations. "I confirmed that high school students make terrific mentors for young children," said Alison. "They are matured enough to handle the task, young enough to have fun with it, and can closely relate to the kids."