Trudy Bradley serves as program director for the Clarke County Mentor Program, a partnership program established between the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce (AACC) and the Clarke County School District. In 1989, after a study about the high school dropout problem revealed a steadily rising 17% dropout rate in Athens, a city centered around a major university, the Clarke County Mentor Program was established to address this pressing community need.
Bradley serves 20 hours a week as a volunteer for the Clarke County Mentor Program, which was designed to pair trained community volunteers with local students who need extra attention and guidance to achieve their potential. Although she receives a small stipend for her work, more than half of the time that she devotes to the program is on a voluntary basis.
In order to promote the Mentor Program, Bradley has become involved in many community and educational endeavors. She often has demonstrated her ability to bring about innovative changes for the betterment of our community and the well being of students through participation in programs such as: the annual Child Watch Project, the Summer Opportunities Program (for rising 8th graders), Junior Achievement, the School-to-Work Initiative, Teachers in Industry, the University of Georgia Standards in Education Committee, the Teenage Drug Abuse Prevention Council, the statewide P-16 Council (addresses the educational trends and needs of pre-kindergarten through college), and the Foundation for Excellence in Public Education in Clarke County, to name a few.
The Clarke County Mentor Program has grown from a core of 30 volunteers to approximately 540 mentors in 1999. More than 1000 children have received the help of mentors thus far, and the dropout rate has dropped to 12.7%, partially due to the influence of mentors on needful students. School administrators endorse the program to the point of expressing a desire that every student have a mentor.
Much of the success of the mentor/mentee pairings is due to the constant support that Bradley gives to the mentors. She provides training, plans and conducts special events and parties, and follows up on every segment of the program. Bradley has extended the scope of the program by providing leadership and materials for replication to more than 50 communities.
Not to be overlooked is Bradley’s success in involving the University of Georgia resources. She has developed a sound relationship with the College of Education, the Terry College of Business, and the UGA Athletic Association.
In 1997, Bradley was a delegate at the President’s Summit for America’s Future in Philadelphia. She and the delegates from Athens then worked for a year to establish the Volunteer Action Center, whose main focus is to recruit volunteers, young and old, for programs and projects that positively impact upon youth.