Today’s blog post is by Communities In Schools Associate Director of Federal Grants and Initiatives, Megan Robinson.
As we wrap up National Mentoring Month, I hope you’ve taken time to thank someone who has helped mentor you, or offered your own time to mentor someone who could use extra support or guidance. Mentoring can have a significant impact on young people’s determination and drive to stay in school. This message resonated for me during MENTOR’s National Mentoring Summit held in Washington, D.C. January 24-25. Nearly 650 leaders from youth-serving organizations, government, research and business came together to share innovative program models and research findings to connect young people with mentors so they can stay on the path to successful adulthood.
The Communities In Schools national office was invited to participate in the Summit as a presenter for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Multi-State Mentoring Initiative. OJJDP awarded Communities In Schools a $2.5 million grant during the Fall of 2011 and we currently have 10 affiliates partnering on the project. Several affiliates, including our technical assistance provider Communities In Schools of North Carolina, joined me at the Summit last week. I was excited to present the accomplishments of our OJJDP affiliates, alongside Communities In Schools of Cape Fear, who presented a unique peer mentoring program that’s being supported by the OJJDP grant.
Our OJJDP partnering affiliates have made over 900 mentoring matches under the grant and we hope to demonstrate to the country how the Communities In Schools model strengthens mentoring relationships and leads to deeper connections between students and their mentors. When Communities In Schools site coordinators provide case management that includes things like parental engagement activities and ensuring basic needs like nutrition and medical care are met, mentors can focus on what they do best – being trusted friends, confidantes and champions to our students.
The OJJDP grant is allowing affiliates to build and expand innovative program designs including school-to-work initiatives for high school students, transition programs for adjudicated youth, and STEM projects with middle school and university students. The MENTOR Summit provided an engaging platform for us to share our efforts and learn from other programs around the country.
Thank you to our OJJDP partnering affiliates for recruiting and training hundreds of dedicated mentors and for building creative mentoring programs that are helping students reach their goals.