The mandate of the organization is to offer quality Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs to empower middle and high school students to reach their potential and achieve academic success. INSPIRE mentoring programs encourages self-esteem, healthy relationships, respect, positive choices, mental wellness, resilience, mindfulness and leadership. The organization's vision is to provide programs, first in Texas then throughout the United States.
About our Approach
INSPIRE classroom mentoring programs work with local schools to help determine their specific student issues and address them in the weekly programs. Two main goals are present on all campus programs - encourage academic achievement and college/vocational school attendance as well as creating an environment to safely talk about and present positive coping skills for dealing with anxiety and emotions. These two issues go hand in hand when helping students become successful and contributing members of society. Without goals, resilience and hard work, students will suffer academically. Without positive coping skills, students are at risk for depression, suicide, substance abuse, unhealthy relationships and other issues that would limit their success.
INSPIRE Survey Results - 300 High School Female Students
- Do you feel an increase in self-confidence? Yes 86%
- Do you respect yourself more? Yes 94%
- Do you respect others more? Yes 85%
- Do you make better choices about relationships? Yes 91%
- Have you in the last week used any of the coping techniques for emotions or stress that were discussed in class? Yes 66%
Studies show that an increase in self-confidence in female students will lead to overall better decision making. Survey results in male students showed an increase in respect for themselves and others. Over half of both male and female students had used a positive coping technique from the class to help deal with stress or emotions. Students are responding positively to discussions about mindfulness and mental health which in turn can lead to seeking help and deterring from negative choices.
INSPIRE's approach to student mentoring includes academic encouragement, social and emotional intelligence as well as mental health awareness through developing mindfulness. This approach seeks the empowerment of students in all of these areas since they are all closely related to a student's overall success.
About INSPIRE School Programs
INSPIRE School Programs was founded in 2008 by Tara Bollinger in the St. Louis metro area. After traveling as a youth motivational speaker and impacting over 100,000 students in assemblies, she recognized the need for quality school programs for youth that focused on the following:
Value – Each young person is created uniquely and possesses individual talents and abilities that makes them significant.
Purpose – Life is more than just existing and every young person has a reason to be here and something valuable to contribute.
Strength – To be successful in life, each young person must build mental strength and wellness in areas such as respect, positive choices, resilience and mindfulness.
While living in Australia, Tara began an after school mentoring group and realized the impact of weekly interaction. Upon moving back to St. Louis, she founded INSPIRE School Programs and began writing curriculum for a classroom mentoring program that would combine the relationship aspect of mentoring with lessons for the classroom.
INSPIRE School Programs now focuses on two main initiatives – providing classroom mentoring programs and assemblies on dating and sexual violence. This includes both creating curriculum, training other organizations and schools nationwide as well as implementing classroom mentoring programs and assemblies in Dallas, Texas. In the last 6 years, over 10,000 students have completed the INSPIRE classroom mentoring program and over 15,000 have attended an UNBREAK ME assembly.
About the Director
Tara Bollinger is the Founder and Director of INSPIRE School Programs. Tara holds degrees in Mass Communications / TV Broadcasting and Spanish from Lindenwood University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Tara Bollinger developed a passion for empowering youth while competing in pageants in college. When she was crowned Miss Missouri USA, she traveled as a full-time youth motivational speaker, impacting over 100,000 young people in one year.
From her experience in working with schools, she knew that weekly programs were needed to help young people discover value, find purpose, and build strength. She moved to Australia and piloted a program that served as a foundation for the organization.
Upon her return to the US, Tara began the process of implementing her ideas by training facilitators, writing curriculum, meeting with schools, and with no funding started INSPIRE School Programs. Tara believes that classroom mentoring programs help students with issues like overcoming poverty, achieving academic success, building self-esteem and making positive choices. She now trains other organizations to do INSPIRE in their states and advocates for church/community partnerships with local schools.