Academy 4, an in-school mentorship program, plans to expand to two more school districts in Tarrant County because of a $10,000 donation that a volunteer secured

An additional 300 fourth graders across Tarrant County will be paired with a year-long mentor. 

Sarah Villarreal, director of grants and events at Academy 4, said the donation will help kick off the new school year.

Troy Tuomey works with a fourth grade student at a Fort Worth elementary school as part of the Academy 4 program. (Courtesy | Academy 4)

“This donation is going right back into the community,” Villarreal said. “This will go to our awesome programs with fourth graders. This donation really is launching us well into this new school year.” 

Academy 4 pairs fourth graders in low-income schools with a mentor. The organization has volunteers in several elementaries across seven school districts in Tarrant County including Arlington ISD, Fort Worth ISD and Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD.

The donation will add Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD and Burleson ISD to its roster. The funding also will allow Academy 4 to enter more schools in already established districts.

Villarreal expects 2,000 volunteers for the upcoming school year in Tarrant County. 

Academy 4

Academy 4 is a non-profit, in-school program that pairs fourth graders with a mentor.

  • Arlington ISD, Birdville ISD, Burleson ISD, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, Fort Worth ISD, Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, Rivertree Academy, Lake Worth ISD and White Settlement ISD are part of the Academy 4 program.
  • Each student will first attend “Spark Clubs” to participate in sports, music, STEM, art and cooking activities.
  • Mentees and mentors meet one-on-one, once a month, for 90 minutes.
  • Mentees participate in leadership tasks, games, crafts and workbook activities.
  • Mentors are members of the community.

The donation also will benefit two Academy 4 initiatives: Leaders 5 and 4Families.

Leaders 5 allows fifth graders to practice leadership skills learned in the Academy 4 program and pairs students with a mentee who is younger than them. 

4Families equips parents with tools to grow alongside their children, in and out of the classroom. The program also connects parents with other families. 

Volunteer Troy Tuomey has worked with Academy 4 for two years. During the 2022-23 academic year, he was paired with a student at Alice Contreras Elementary School in Fort Worth ISD. 

The little things make big impacts in the lives of students, Tuomey said. His most memorable moment happened his first year.

“You, as an adult, we don’t know what things are a big deal to the kids,” he said. “The best thing this student remembered was making silly glasses. That’s what makes me feel good is that they’re happy, that I was there and have become their friend.”

Academy 4 also allows the community to have a presence on campuses, Villarreal said. 

“Our mission goes so beyond fourth grade. Academy 4 equips communities and churches to build lasting relationships with schools and families,” she said. “We are a tool for communities to get into their local school, which they may not have had the chance to do.” 

Editor’s note: The story was updated July 28, 2023, to clarify when the program takes place. 

Marcela Sanchez is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Creative Commons License

Noncommercial entities may republish our articles for free by following our guidelines. For commercial licensing, please email

Marcela Sanchez is a 2023 summer reporting fellow. She’s a North Texas native pursuing a master's in journalism, media and globalization from Aarhus University in Denmark and Charles University in the...