What is We Are Marcus (the WAM Academy platform)?
WAM Academy is an interactive mentoring platform for schools and out-of-school-time providers for students to access the powerful stories of mentors. The platform measures student character growth through their writing. WAM is aligned with leading social-emotional learning frameworks and mindfulness best practices. WAM disrupts mentoring models which fail to scale and analyze data on student growth across the country and internationally.
Who is Marcus?
We decided to name our solution tied directly to the problem we’ve found across the country in our research. Marcus is the name for one of the 24 million youth growing up in a fatherless household in the US. Marcus is also the name for the 16 million missing mentors who want to make time to positively impact a young person but struggle to find that time. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, the “mentoring gap” continues to prevail. We decided to connect this shared story and build a community around our experiences. Hence the name, We Are Marcus.
How does WAM find mentors?
Our mentors are recruited through our extensive network, and we prioritize qualities such as personal candor, authenticity, and alignment to our mission.
We want to showcase the diversity of our experiences at scale and create the most sustainable and wide-sweeping reflection for youth. Would you like to be a mentor or have someone to recommend? Click here to nominate or volunteer, and we’ll do our best to get to know them and capture their story.
Strictly digital though?
No, the program leverages technology as a catalyst for vulnerability through dialogue that occurs offline as well. We provide structure for facilitation which creates in-depth discussion for teens during the sessions on the topic of the day. This helps youth articulate their story first with in-person educators before they enter their responses in the WAM Academy platform. The peer-to-peer and peer-to-facilitator conversation is about equal to the time spent individually journaling on the platform.
How does this program fit into the school day?
WAM can be used anytime during the day or after-school, with 20-minutes to an hour to use. Some school leaders refer to it as the “new study hall”.
What level of students engage with WAM?
We designed the platform for middle and high school youth. In our product testing, we have seen 7th-11th graders provide the most engaging feedback as well as praise from program coordinators (administrators). We can also engage younger and older depending on the nature of the partnership. We’d be happy to talk with you about the differences with each age group.
Is the system beneficial for girls? Is this gender exclusive or inclusive?
We’re glad you asked! WAM is gender inclusive. All of the content is meant for the advancement of both boys and girls. Our content is gender-neutral, built to engage everyone. Our mentors are men for several reasons. Primarily, given that black male educators and role models in school settings are below 5% of the US workforce and that this demographic has proven to make a significant difference in the academic achievement of boys, we target boys to engage in our program first. Our goal is to impact three research-proven outcomes: 1) truancy, 2) behavior management referrals in educational settings, and 3) substance abuse. Let us be clear: we don’t leave anyone behind in our modules. In whole group settings, girls are in the classroom and want support too. In fact, we’ve found that our content appeals to girls from father-full and fatherless households alike. We can never have too many positive examples affecting youth, and we have found that all genders equally enjoy the personal reflection in our modules.
Do mentors have any face time with students?
Not at this time. We designed the platform to provide the most engagement through authentic storytelling without relying on syncing times and time zones. We want students to learn from their adult counterparts without having to rely on matching either. In today’s digital age, we know that matching doesn’t yield the biggest impact because it does not scale effectively to address the challenges of youth. We want our mentors to have an impact across the limits of time and place. This also saves on program costs and facilitates addressing current issues with youth. As we evolve and grow our partnerships with stakeholders, we plan purposeful interaction with our most popular mentors. In fact, please click here if you’d like to be an organizational partner.
Will I get my own login?
Yes, we encourage you to register by clicking “login” on our homepage and create your unique password-protected credentials.
How do I access the system?
Click here for our step-by-step slideshow.
Will students get their own individual login?
Yes, each student may register on our platform for individual reports on their progress.
How do I pay for this experience?
After the 7-day free-trial access to the platform, you will be asked to officially register with our system for monthly billing.
Can my entire school district have access?
Yes, we would be excited to onboard your school district. Our platform is built to scale our student and mentor experience. We’d like to grow with the desires of your educators on the ground and align with the SEL goals of your leadership.
How is your system different than other social-emotional learning (SEL) programs?
WAM prioritizes black men as role models digitally. We also incorporate student feedback in our platform to be obsessively user-centric.
How do you use data to analyze student growth?
Check your administrator dashboard for student insights. If you have further questions, submit one here.