To the Editor,

A 25-year-old nonprofit program is looking for at least 50 Minnesotans to work side-by-side with students during the 2023-24 school year, and trust me—it will change your life.

I speak from experience: I’m one of more than 2,200 people who have served in a Minnesota school or community-based organization as a Promise Fellow, an AmeriCorps program that addresses the dropout epidemic by working one-on-one with middle and high school students who show early warning signs of being at risk for not graduating on time. 

Since it was started in 1998, the program has supported more than 180,000 students across the state through more than 3 million hours of service. Host sites are located across Minnesota, in the Twin Cities metro, St. Cloud, Northfield and many other locations.

Much more than tutors, Promise Fellows provide direct support for up to 30 students during the school year in the areas of attendance, engagement and course performance. The initiative is made up of Minnesotans from all walks of life, from recent college graduates to retirees. When I served as a Promise Fellow at Sandburg Middle School in Golden Valley, I was specifically interested in learning if I wanted to work with students in a school setting. My undergraduate degree was in social work, and I thought Promise Fellows was a great fit. 

While everybody has their own unique story, we all share a passion for serving our communities and an interest in helping Minnesota students succeed. You won’t get rich serving as a Promise Fellow—although you do receive a stipend, education award, student loan forbearance and other benefits—but the experience will be life-changing. No matter what Promise Fellows do after their year of service, the experience sticks with us, significantly shaping the rest of our lives and careers. For me personally, I became students’ safe space. While it was a tough start to building relationships with my students since we were in distance learning the first part of the year, I was still able to show them I cared about them as people. I created “affirmation bags” to help students open up and be more vulnerable with me, which became the foundation of our work together the rest of the year. 

The Promise Fellows program has a measurably positive effect on school attendance for students who participate. On average, students who participate in the program attend one more week, or roughly five more school days, compared to students who don’t participate in the program. And just as important, the students we support benefit from having a caring, trusted adult in their corner as an ally and an advocate. Today that role is more important than ever. Especially as the pandemic has increased feelings of isolation and insulation among students, Promise Fellows provide the connection young people need and crave in a school environment. Simply put, the more Promise Fellows we have in the Minnesota education system, the better it will be.

If you find yourself asking: “what’s next?” or “how can I help others?,” I strongly encourage you to check out the Promise Fellows program. Applications for the upcoming school year are being accepted for priority deadline until Aug. 14, 2023, to ensure Promise Fellows can work with students for the entire school year. Applications are also being accepted on a rolling basis for Oct. 1 and Jan. 16 start dates. 

For more information or to apply, visit

Alexandra Soth, 

Minnesota Alliance 

With Youth