Lincoln is proud to be the birthplace of TeamMates and the program’s largest chapter.
The Beginning of the Program
The TeamMates Mentoring Program began in 1991 with the vision of University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Tom Osborne and his wife Nancy. That year 22 football players met with middle school students in Lincoln Public Schools. Coach Osborne felt that the athletes in his program could make an impact on the academic success of these middle school students. Of those 22 original mentees, 21 graduated from high school, and 18 went on to graduate from post-secondary programs.
Increasing the Impact
In 1997, TeamMates expanded to include 160 volunteer mentors from the Lincoln community. They met with their students for one hour a week at school. The volunteers gave their time with the belief that these students could benefit from another caring adult in their life.
Lincoln TeamMates is not only the flagship chapter of TeamMates, but also the largest chapter in the organization. Lincoln’s chapter joined Lincoln Public Schools through the VIP (Ventures in Partnership) Program in 1998, recruiting individuals and business partners to support the TeamMates mission. Over the years, the Lincoln Chapter has been guided by Barb Hopkins, Shauna Valentine, Sandi Fabry, and Walter Powell. The present TeamMates of Lincoln Coordinator, Jim Bennett, brings 20 plus years of youth work experience to the organization.
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In partnership with Lincoln Public Schools, the Lincoln chapter of TeamMates includes over 1,200 students from every corner of the city. The program matches a student with an adult volunteer mentor who meets weekly with students during the school year. Activities during meetings include playing games, completing craft or community service projects, shooting hoops, taking a walk or simply engaging in conversation. No matter how they choose to spend their time, matches in the Lincoln TeamMates Program continue to carry-on the tradition of success that began more than 30 years ago.