University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention | Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

Photo of mentor with student, representing Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention.

Implementation Options and Funding Tips

Tips PDFCheck & Connect can be implemented in an educational or community setting in a variety of ways. While our evidence for Check & Connect was obtained through research studies using dedicated mentors, sites around the United States are piloting several different implementation options.

With regard to funding, the primary expense for implementing Check & Connect is staffing for mentors, whether hiring dedicated mentors or using existing staff (e.g., school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, teacher, etc.) to serve in this role. In addition, we encourage sites to have a designated coordinator working with Check & Connect mentors and ensuring smooth implementation. Below are some pros, cons, and funding tips to consider when deciding on personnel for Check & Connect mentors:

Dedicated Mentors

Individuals hired part-time or full-time can serve as Check & Connect mentors (including AmeriCorps volunteers).


  • Sole focus is their Check & Connect mentor role
  • More likely to make the recommended two-year commitment (except AmeriCorps volunteers)
  • Have more time for professional development
  • Have more time for family engagement
  • Low-cost if using AmeriCorps volunteers


  • Must be paid a salary; the nature of the funding used to pay their salary (e.g., grant funds) could limit the duration of their employment
  • May be new to the school
  • May encounter difficulty with obtaining access to school data unless the mentor is considered a district employee
  • May be the only Check & Connect mentor at a particular school and thus may lack colleagues with whom to collaborate and problem-solve
  • If using AmeriCorps volunteers: limited availability, one-year commitment, and application process

Funding Tips

Finding a Grant

  • Look for funding in your community through local educational or philanthropic foundations that award grants.
  • Keep apprised of your state department of education's (SEA's) statewide dropout prevention initiatives (sometimes SEAs make funding available to districts to implement programs like Check & Connect).
  • Consider federal education funding sources (some Check & Connect sites have received funding from the U.S. Department of Education).
  • Read the grant requirements carefully. What is the geographic area and content the funder is focused on? Look for content keywords like dropout prevention, school completion, student engagement, mentoring, character education, and/or youth development and determine if the grant requirements apply to your need.

Funding Websites

School Staff as Mentors

Teachers, school social workers, school psychologists, counselors, paraprofessionals, and other school personnel can serve as Check & Connect mentors.


  • Costs less than using dedicated mentors
  • Staff may already have positive relationships with students
  • Staff know the school policies, environment, personnel, and available resources


  • Taking on an additional duty may be difficult
  • May experience role confusion between their "real" job and their Check & Connect mentor role; e.g., they may be responsible for grading or disciplining students (not part of the Check & Connect mentor role)
  • May vary in their willingness, commitment, and follow-through as mentors
  • Scheduling Check & Connect related professional development may be difficult

Funding Tips

Schools or districts can:

  • Redefine the positions of current staff, provide training, and adjust typical caseloads. Many different people can serve as Check & Connect mentors, including teachers, counselors, school psychologists, social workers, and educational assistants.
  • Provide a small stipend to school personnel who take on a larger caseload (e.g., 5 or more students).
  • Relieve school personnel serving as mentors of other service duties (e.g., bus or lunch duty). Many secondary schools employ 100-150 staff. Clearly, many students could be served if each staff member was a Check & Connect mentor for one student!

(Excerpted from Check & Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention: Implementing with Fidelity, 2012, p. 33.)

Community Volunteers as Mentors

Volunteers from the community, undergraduate or graduate education programs, civic organizations, or businesses can serve as Check & Connect mentors.


  • Free or low-cost
  • Are probably willing and eager to be a mentor
  • May come from the same community as the students and may have backgrounds similar to the students


  • Commitment and follow-through regarding their Check & Connect mentor role may vary
  • Confidentiality issues
    • May not have access to school data or other information
    • May be issues related to family privacy and the information that can or cannot be shared with them
  • May lack experience with youth, families, or the school system
  • Scheduling Check & Connect related professional development may be difficult

Funding Tips

Although volunteer positions are typically unpaid, plan for staff time needed preparing volunteer applications (as with AmeriCorps), reviewing submitted applications, and otherwise recruiting and retaining volunteers.

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