The More Caps and Gowns Project

A simple act of kindness can change generations - and it starts with YOU.

The More Caps and Gowns Project is about our community embracing its youth to improve graduation rates across Erie County to give children the best chance at a bright future. "Young people with formal and informal mentors in their lives were far more likely to stay in school, enroll in college, become active in sports, become leaders and generally pursue higher education goals" than those who do not have quality relationships with adults (The Mentoring Effect, The National Mentoring Partnership, 2014). The sad fact is, nationally, 40% of young children and 55% of teens do not have caring adults in their homes, schools, and communities.  Research shows that even one caring adult can make a major difference in the life of a child. Caring adults can provide encouragement, support, and teach valuable lessons, but most importantly, they can be role models.

Here's your chance to make a difference for the future of our community. We encourage you to make an extra effort in your personal life to reach out to the youth around you as a neighbor, friend, mentor, supporter, and inspirer of hope. You can also spread the word through your involvement in groups, organizations, and at work and encourage others to get involved. 

Pilot Program

  • Girard School District was the first to pilot The More Caps and Gowns Project at Rice Avenue Middle School during the 2015-16 school year. Interested mentors were recruited from the community and Penn State Behrend students helped to facilitate sessions. The program continued throughout the 2016-17 school year. Interested mentors can contact the school or Erie Together.
  • Erie's Public Schools' JoAnna Connell School joined The More Caps and Gowns Project in 2016. The program focuses on leadership and social skills for sixth grade students. All schools focus on including a diverse group of students in the program. Mentors for this project are part of Mercyhurst University's mentoring class and commit to meet weekly with students throughout the year. 


Never Doubt


Clearance Information

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), anyone working or volunteering with children in public and private schools, IUs, and vocational-technical schools are required to provide proof of the following clearances: Federal Criminal History Record, Pennsylvania State Criminal Record Check, Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance. These clearances need to be on file with the school and/or responsible organization. 


What can you do?

Erie Together launched The More Caps and Gowns Project in November 2014 after convening 17 focus groups around the topic of identifying specific actionable ideas on ways that caring adults can be involved in children's lives and educational success. There were more than 900 ideas total, but below we have highlighted the top ideas that each group outlined. 

 Click here to download the PDF


  Click here for a full list of ideas generated through the focus groups (be prepared - it's a big list!)


Don't forget to "Share Your Story" and tell us what you are doing to show kids that you care. 


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Click here to Join the Movement or visit our Events page to get involved in our action teams

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