What is Clemente?

The Clemente Program is an undergraduate education program offered by the St Vincent de Paul Society in partnership with the Australian Catholic University.  It aims to break the cycle of poverty, inequality and social injustice for disadvantaged and marginalised people by providing opportunities to engage in a meaningful way with society, both socially and economically, through access to university-level study.  Students study towards a non-award accredited university qualification, the Certificate in Liberal Studies.  The achievement of studying at a university level for someone who has been living on the edge of society can be truly transformative.

Clemente, based on the model of education developed by Earl Shorris in the USA, has been running in Canberra since 2007.  The very first Clemente Program was offered in 1995 in New York at the Roberto Clemente Community Centre.  The first program in Australia, held at the Vincentian Village in East Sydney, was offered in 2003 by the St Vincent de Paul Society in collaboration with the Australian Catholic University, with financial assistance from the Sisters of Charity and Sydney City Council. In 2017, the program is being run in 13 locations across Australia:

The Contribution of Clemente Learning Partners and Mentors

A key to the success of the Clemente Canberra Program is the involvement of the volunteer mentors who assist the students with the ‘process of learning’, assisting a student to study one university-level humanities subject each semester.

Overall the key responsibilities of mentors are to:

  • Provide the students with support, encouragement and study skill assistance (e.g. help with organisational skills, assignment presentation, clarification of lecture material, basic computing skills, essay writing, internet searches, research and library use);

  • Assist the students to develop complementary skills required by the course; and

  • Pursue the above tasks in the context of a developing professional relationship by engendering trust and building self-esteem.

Volunteers are utilised on campus in class and off campus directly with students.

  1. Off Campus mentors:  Learning Partners develop mentoring arrangements directly with students to assist in assignment presentation, clarification of lecture material and basic computing skills. Usually the of-campus mentors meet with one or several student/s once a week (or as otherwise arranged) for between 1 to 2 hours per week for the 12 week semester.  These meetings must happen in a public and conducive environment (e.g. ACU campus, public library, etc.).

  2. On campus mentors: Learning Partners assist students in the classroom environment and support teaching staff to engage students in classroom activities. Mentors must be available either/both Friday morning or afternoon during the semester.

It is important that the mentors commit to the full 12 weeks of the program.

Essential Criteria for Learning Partners

  • A university degree or be currently studying towards a degree (nearing completion) or similar experience;

  • Computer literacy at a level that enables them to assist with internet research and formatting assignments;

  • General research and library skills;

  • Readiness to work within the values of the Clemente program;

  • The ability to readily develop a rapport with students;

  • Skills in encouraging personal development in others;

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills;

  • An ability to interact and deal sensitively with students from different backgrounds

  • Commitment to maintaining professional boundaries with staff and students; and

  • Ability to hold and maintain an ACT Working with Vulnerable Person check (volunteer).

Do you have the characteristics to be a Learning Partner?

  • Do you want to make a difference?

  • Have you experienced the liberation knowledge brings?

  • Would you like to be part of something that offers hope and opens doors for people who experience disadvantage and marginalisation?

  • Do you want to try something new and meet people who might help you to see the world differently?

If you feel you have the characteristics and commitment to be a Clemente Learning Partner, contact the Clemente Coordinator (clemente@svdp-cg.org.au or call 0418 714 835) to find out if they are actively recruiting for volunteers.