Enhancing the quality of life for all refugees from Burma in Minnesota
Karen Empowering Youth for Success Program (KEYS)
The Karen believe strongly in the importance of investing in educational opportunities for their youth. Honoring this value, the Karen Empowering Youth for Success Program (KEYS) provides multifaceted services to help students succeed academically, pursue career goals, and practice leadership skills. KOM partners with Saint Paul Public Schools and Roseville Area Schools to provide the following services for students from Burma in grades K-12:
Academic Support KOMs Youth Development Coordinators work alongside teachers in the classroom to help students understand the curriculum and translate as needed. Staff from KOM and the school districts also provide tutoring support for students after school and help students access other resources to increase their learning. In the past two academic years, students enrolled in the KEYS program increased their state math and reading assessment scores by more than double the typical growth rate seen among their peers.
Mental Health Services Many Karen youth have mental health problems as a result of the trauma they have endured as refugees. KOM connects these students and their families with professional mental health staff at the Center for Victims of Torture and Northeast Family and Youth Services. Students complete assessments and are connected with appropriate resources, including individual and family therapy, to help them improve overall mental health and functioning in school.
Leadership Training KOM's leadership training program emphasizes the importance of academic success to reach personal goals and gives youth the skills to become leaders within their community and in the larger American society. This training includes lessons in career and educational development; stress management; general leadership skills; and health and social education topics such as bullying, conflict resolution, reproductive health, and drug/alcohol/tobacco abuse.
Mentorship Program St. Paul and Roseville school students are matched with local professionals in one-on-one relationships for a 3 -6 month period during an academic year. Through these relationships, as well as recreational and group activities, mentors provide friendship, support, and guidance to local youth. Mentors and their mentees connect at least once a week and meet in person at least once a month to participate in activities they both enjoy. Participants are all united once a month for group activities.