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Name & Philosophy
Goals & Deliverables
Foundation Pillars


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the significance of the name relative to the mission?

    “Zoeza” is a Swahili word that means “to learn by doing.” Drawing on this meaning, the philosophy of the Zoeza Institute is to engage the target youth, develop deep, committed relationships, and maintain a long-term bond filled with learning experiences, enrichment activities, and apprentice opportunities. Both the mentor and mentee learn valuable lessons by engaging in the doing of the aforementioned activities.

  2. Why are services focused on at-risk youth from non-traditional care living environments?

    Youth who are raised in traditional settings (with their parents or relatives) often have a difficult time transitioning to responsible living situations post high school. However, youth who are raised in non-traditional settings (foster homes, residential treatment centers, etc) have even greater difficulty transitioning. Research shows that almost 85% of non-traditional youth fail to transition to meaningful careers and productive, independent living; they end up in prison, homeless, or in other unproductive situations. Thus, the Zoeza Institute has chosen to focus its services on this population.

  3. How many youth participate in the Zoeza Institute programs?

    There is no limitation in the number of youth who can be served by Zoeza Institute programs and services. However, the long-term engagement and intensive intervention schedule require a significant commitment by all involved. As a result, the Zoeza Institute “family” naturally remains select.

  4. What is meant by the term “Surrogate Mentoring?”

    Youth who are raised in non-traditional care living environments lack certain guidance and experiences that would normally be provided by their parents. The Zoeza Institute seeks to lessen this gap by serving as partial parent replacements. Thus, surrogate mentoring is an approach to offering youth what they are missing from their parents.

  5. What is the SMART® service model and how is it used?

    SMART® stands for Surrogate Mentoring and Responsible Transition. The Zoeza Institute utilizes the SMART® service model to allow youth to: participate in a long-term, high-touch program that prepares them while they are young, facilitates their transition into adulthood, and supports their ongoing quest to live responsible, independent lives. The intensive, longitudinal program utilizes a flow of intervention activities that begin with an individualized selection criteria and customized needs assessment and ends with a conscious reach-back commitment to support others in need

  6. What types of partners are involved in the programming interventions?

    In order to carry out the mission of the Institute, a myriad of relationships are necessary to achieve the goals. Partners are drawn from a wide pool of individuals and organizations. Examples include community centers, schools, small businesses, craftsmen, professionals, and educators. The roles, experiences, and engagement levels vary based on need.

  7. How long is each mentoring relationship?

    The mission of the Zoeza Institute is to help the target population transition to responsible, independent living with a sustainable career. Given that the engagement relationship begins as early as age 13, the mentoring relationship can last between 5 and 10+ years. The focus is not on the length of the relationship; the Zoeza Institute is committed to serving the youth for however long it takes to achieve the mission and objectives.

  8. What other organizations provide similar mentoring services to this target population?

    There are many local, regional, and national organizations that provide various mentoring services to at-risk youth. Most are focused on short meetings on a periodic cycle. Very few, however, are dedicated to intensive meetings with a long-term commitment and specific targeted outcome. As a result, the Zoeza Institute serves a need that is underrepresented in the mentoring landscape.

  9. What geographic areas are served by the Zoeza Institute?

    Currently, the Zoeza Institute provides programs and services in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. However, plans are in development to replicate the service model and scale the services to other areas of need.

  10. How is success measured?

    In order to achieve the mission of the Zoeza Institute and satisfy stated goals and objectives, an intensive evaluation system is utilized. This process includes customizing individual development plans and continually evaluating growth, progress, and outcome to ensure that measurable results are achieved through all intervention activities. Given limited funds, time, and personnel, a core focus area will be the maximization of said resources towards achieving targeted goals. Impact data will be collected and reviewed on a quarterly basis and analyzed against an aggressive metric system based on:

    • Participation Rates
    • Assessment Reports
    • Placement Statistics
    • Feedback Surveys
    • Subjective Reviews (Observations, Interviews, etc)

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