EDGEWOOD, Md. -- The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center is targeting at-risk students at a local high school as part of a new outreach effort.

Five ECBC mentors volunteered at Edgewood High School's first RAM Hour Academic Club, which is sponsored by the National Defense Education Program. They were assigned to freshmen in the program for at-risk students, said math teacher Kristin Davis, the RAM academy coordinator.

"When you guys [from ECBC] approached us, we were so excited to hear that scientists and engineers from your organization were interested in mentoring our students," Davis said. "You are the perfect resource for this program."

ECBC mentors will meet one-on-one with students each week to boost academic achievements.

Research microbiologist Russell Dorsey was helped by a mentor in college. When he asked his mentor what he could do to thank her, she said he would never be able to pay her back, but he could help someone in the future.

"I read a few books on how to become a good mentor and role model before making this commitment," Dorsey said. "While focusing to help my mentee in math and science, I also hope to provide him with tools that will guide him through life."

Davis said most students recognize the importance of participating in the RAM Hour Academic Club.

Mary Doak, ECBC community and educational outreach program manager, said she is striving to meet the community's educational needs.

"With America's dropout rates representing an unprecedented challenge, the gap between the number of mentors and the number of young people who need a mentor continues to grow," Doak said. "I am glad that we were able to successfully establish a new mentorship initiative at Edgewood High School and will continue to encourage our employees to help make a difference in local students' lives."

The academic performance of Edgewood student Raquan Witherspoon, who is being mentored by ECBC computer scientist Jarell Johnson, has significantly improved in the week after his first mentoring session.

"It is really exciting to see such quick progress," said Davis, Witherspoon's math teacher.