Village, schools, non-profit work toward mentor goal


RANTOUL — Kids are about to get a big opportunity because of a $60,000 investment. Big Brothers Big Sisters is expanding. A lot of people are pulling together to make this happen. Village leaders kicked in $20,000 and so did the school district. They all see this as a way to bring families in to their community and encourage them to stay.

The village of Rantoul has plenty to offer when it comes to businesses and homes, but community leaders say they also want to make kids a priority.

“t is important for our schools to be a great place that families want to move to and have their students attend,” said Rantoul City Schools superintendent Michelle Ramage. “We need to strive for that.”

The district is partnering with the village and Big Brothers Big Sisters. They plan to bring a full school based mentoring program to town. Ramage says many kids could use someone to look up to.

“Actually the number 400 surprised me,” said Ramage. “Obviously there was a need, but I didn’t realize it was that great of a need.”

“I’ve been a volunteer in the past, when I moved into the community, and I’ve seen firsthand how beneficial having a good, positive mentor can be for these young kids,” said village administrator Jeff Fiegenschuh.

He says taxes and businesses can be reasons for people to move to Rantoul, but he knows schools are also a big draw.

“You’re really investing in kids and we want to continue to invest in our kids and hopefully then invest in parents and it just flows out from there,” said Fiegenschuh.

Ramage says school based mentoring will not only help the kids, but also encourage people to be in the schools. That could open up even more opportunities to volunteer in the future.

There is currently a case worker who helps Rantoul kids part-time. This money will pay for someone to be there full time to help the program grow.

They plan to start the program in the fall. They have about 400 kids who could use support. They hope to match up about 75 kids with mentors this year and expand from there. After the village and district pitch in $20,000 each, the non-profit is making up the rest of the $60,000. They raised $14,000 at the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event and plan to keep working until they meet the goal. To find out more, click here.

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