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The purpose of Project HOPE is summarized by the phrase "Help Oakland Pupils Excel". Thus mentors, who are duly screened Rotarians, are paired up with mentees of the same gender. The mentees are from the Oakland inner city. The most intensive part of the pairing up is for a 5 ½ year period - from the mentee's second middle school year until his or her graduation from high school.

The focus of Project H.O.P.E. is not necessarily developing a close friendship between mentor and mentee, or the using of the mentor as a source of emotional or financial support for the mentee. Rather the focus is on developing the mentees as competent students, with good life skills able to work themselves productively into the larger society. Players in this effort - besides the mentor and mentee - are the mentee's school and the mentee's care givers. The pool of potential middle-school mentees consists of students that could well use a degree of outside help. The hope is that as the mentees go through the program - maintaining certain minimum standards - they will be constructive leaders in their own communities.

On a mentee's high school graduation, the mentor-mentee relationship changes. The mentor administers a program in which the mentee can receive, for purposes of further education, a scholarship of $10,000. This is paid out over four years, on a semester basis, for post-high school education and training. The scholarship is out of a H.O.P.E scholarship fund set up for the mentee out of Oakland Rotary Endowment.

Project H.O.P.E. is run by a H.O.P.E. committee subject to the oversight of the Oakland Rotary board of directors. The committee consists of (1) Bob Miller, as chair, (2) Marion Sims as overall professional administrator, (3) Lori Sinclair as executive director of Oakland Rotary, (4) all the mentors, (5) those having a special advisory status like Jack McAboy, Iris Brody Lopez, Susan Piper, Anindya Kar, and Marilyn Harryman, and (6) others as their interests dictate for a particular meeting. This last grouping would include those in the H.O.P.E. mentor pool not yet paired up with a mentee, as well as the occasional mentee. Come join the fun.