CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — There are students in Champaign-Urbana who crave a mentor. Someone familiar they can relate to, trust and respect. That’s where C-U One to One steps in for them.

It’s a school-based mentoring program that offers students in Unit 4 and Urbana District 116 a chance to connect with adult mentors. Once a week for at least a year, time is spent on school grounds growing the mentorship through games, sports and more. One example is Alven Allison and his mentee Mario.

“If you get with these kids, you know, you can’t save every last one of them. That’s just not gonna happen. But it just takes one at a time. That’s why I did it because somebody did it for me. I was lucky enough or blessed to always have somebody I could talk to.”

Allison and Mario have maintained their mentorship for five years now. The pair first met when Mario was in grade school. Since then, Allison says the changes he’s witnessed in Mario have been significantly positive.

“It’s a change from you can tell there’s a little bit of remorse and compassion about trying to do better versus whatever. That to me is one of the biggest goals, biggest satisfactions is okay he cares. He actually cares. If I can get that, job’s halfway done now.”

This mentoring program doesn’t match students with mentors until they’re in 3rd to 7th grade. But if the students stay in the program through high school graduation, there’s a chance for up to $14,000 in scholarships. Something Brian Oviedo, a graduated mentee and U-of-I student, has taken advantage of.

“It’s given me the freedom to where I don’t need to take up a job. I can take campus involvements, I can do internships. I can talk to professionals in the industry. The upcoming summer internship wouldn’t be possible without the extra time the scholarship gives me.”

Thanks to the Mentoring Scholarship Foundation, a community partner of C-U One to One, Oviedo now has the time and opportunity to pursue a summer internship at Google. But his own accomplishments have inspired him to encourage fellow students to join the program. Especially those who are minorities like him.

“I was always like one of maybe two Latinos in the AP and accelerated classes. Although I didn’t see the representation, I always had my mentor to guide me through. It was always that encouragement that helped me get where I am today. I mirror that in my friendships and mentorships now.”

With the month of January being National Mentoring month, officials at Unit 4 and Urbana District 116 are hoping to bring awareness to the year-round need for more C-U One to One mentors. But there is a process to become a mentor. If that experience interests you, click here to reach the application.

To learn more about the C-U One to One mentor program, click here.

Stay tuned to the Morning Show in a few weeks as we’ll have a look at another graduated mentee and Parkland College student, Godelieve Tshimanga. As well as Shayonna Reid who joined as a mentor two months ago and Mike Ingram who’s been a mentor at Central for five years.