Reintroduction of the Students Helping Young Students Act

Floor Speech

Date: Jan. 31, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARSON. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce the Students Helping Young Students Act. This important legislation will invest in college students who support and mentor K-12 students at after-school activities. This legislation will make a meaningful difference in the lives of all Hoosier students, and young Americans across the country, by ensuring that college students can be compensated for the critical work of mentoring and supporting their younger counterparts. I would like to thank my Senate Colleague, Senator Cory Booker, for leading the companion of this important legislation.

It is an honor to represent students of all ages in Indiana's Seventh District. I am continually impressed by the many college students in my district and across the country that, in addition to their studies, help mentor and support K-12 students in after-school programs. These college students, by serving as powerful examples and mentors, continue to inspire my colleagues and I about the importance of peer mentorship opportunities. This includes the crucial role of work-study programs in helping students finance their postsecondary education.

Several examples in Indiana underscore the importance of supporting mentorship programs, both to the mentee and the mentor. The influence and investment from a mentor can improve younger student lives and outcomes. Their stories are common: in fact, at-risk youth that have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to attend college. Moreover, at-risk youth that have a mentor are 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school and 46 percent less likely to use drugs. Mentoring also increases community engagement, as at-risk students are 78 percent more likely to volunteer in their community and are 130 percent more likely to hold a leadership role in clubs or teams with a mentor in their lives. Mentoring not only helps students stay away from drugs and violence, but also live healthier lives and improve school performance. Mentees participating in mentorship programs have also performed higher on the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) tests.

Because of these unmistakable benefits, Congress must do more to support these after-school programs and their student mentors. Although after-school mentorship programs often intersect with students' courses of study and benefit the community, after-school activities are not currently considered a community service under the Federal Work-Study program. This means that college students cannot rely on compensation from Federal Work-Study for their participation in after-school activities.

The Federal Work-Study program has helped support undergraduate and graduate students, who have exhibited financial need, find part-time jobs. The Federal Work-Study program employs hundreds of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students. Across all higher education, 7 in 10 college students work at least 15 hours per week to help cover their tuition, and 1 in 4 work more than 35 hours a week. While mentorship's benefits are clear, the absence of after-school activities from consideration as work-study programs causes students with financial need to more often pursue other opportunities. This means that many students are unable to serve in mentorship roles, even if it aligns with their course of study, for financial reasons. This dynamic exacerbates the widening mentoring gap, which includes the over 9 million young people without a mentor outside their family to support their growth and education.

As a result, more work needs to be done to help compensate students who choose to serve their communities by mentoring younger students. That is why the Students Helping Young Students Act is so important. This bill incorporates work at after-school programs into the Federal Work-Study Program under community service by making participation in these programs eligible for federal funds. In short, this bill allows college students to access Federal Work-Study funds for their participation in after-school activities.

Through the Students Helping Young Students Act, after-school mentoring programs will count as community service under the Federal Work-Study program. Students can be compensated for their work, including time spent in training and travel, directly related to the program. This will allow any student who wishes to serve in their community to participate in mentorship activities, regardless of their financial background. As a result, the Students Helping Young Students Act will also help close the mentoring gap and ensure that younger students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, have the support they need to succeed and reach their goals.

Mr. Speaker, I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this bill to ensure that Federal Work-Study students are compensated for their mentorship efforts. It is important that Congress supports these students in their pursuit to serve our communities. I urge the House to support this bill.