NBC12 VIEWPOINT: January is National Mentoring Month - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

EDITORIAL

NBC12 VIEWPOINT: January is National Mentoring Month

By: Kym Grinnage email

Was there someone special in your life who really made an impact on who you are today?  A person who recognized something special in you that you may not have seen for yourself. 

January marks the beginning of a new year, but it is the month that has been declared National Mentoring Month by the President to remind us all of the importance of mentoring. 

According to statistics compiled by Virginia Mentoring Partnership, their affiliate members report that there are over 1500 children on waiting lists for a mentoring opportunity and this is up from last year. When you consider the young people that are outside of this network the number of youth in need of mentoring is in the 10's of thousands.

What is the outcome when a child has a mentor. According to MENTOR, The National Mentoring Partnership:

55% are more likely to be enrolled in college than those without a mentor and 78% are more likely to volunteer in their communities

Central Virginia needs more mentors like you and for those individuals and organizations that are already mentoring please take advantage of the best training available.

If you would like to be a mentor or get more information about training and quality mentoring please contact the Virginia Mentoring Partnership at:

Vamentoring.org or call (804) 828-1536

National Mentoring Month is an annual, concentrated burst of national and local media activity designed to initiate a dialogue on the importance of expanding the reach of quality mentoring programs and to recruit volunteers as mentors. 

Virginia Mentoring Partnership coordinates awareness efforts at the state and local level throughout the month by providing digital and print toolkits to mentoring program staff, facilitating trainings for current and new mentors, organizing groups to advocate about the benefits of mentoring at the General Assembly, and more. 

In the fall, VMP surveyed its state-wide network of 68 mentoring programs for its annual report on the “State of Mentoring in Virginia and D.C.” This process aims to capture a snapshot of mentoring activity across the Commonwealth, and allows VMP and its stakeholders to learn about potential challenges or opportunities in the field, to identify gaps in services to youth across the state, and to better understand the resources mentoring programs need to sustain life-changing mentoring relationships. Some findings from the 2015 State of Mentoring include: 

• Nearly 24% of responding affiliate member programs reported serving youth ages 18-24, as compared to the previous year's 16%. Youth in this age group neither in school nor working are referred to as “disconnected youth” or “opportunity youth,” and have been gaining increasing attention in the past decade as young people in need of role models to foster reengagement. 

• Among VMP's affiliate member network, the number of children waiting for mentors is growing, with nearly 1,550 children reported on waitlists compared to 1,380 the previous year. 

• Mentoring programs could benefit from improving systems for tracking youth data. Race and gender are commonly tracked but other population characteristics (e.g., foster care, court-involved, low-income, etc.) are often not. With better data on youth, programs can provide tailored services and apply for funds restricted to mentoring specific populations. 

• According to a needs assessment conducted by VMP using recent census data, the Shenandoah Valley, Southern Virginia, and Southwest Virginia regions all represent areas of high need for mentoring efforts, as indicated by the proportion of children living in poverty, educational attainment/dropout rates, and academic performance as measured by test scores. At least one affiliate member program serves mentees in each county of these regions, and the number of affiliate members serving mentees in Shenandoah Valley has grown. VMP continues to support developing programs in these areas of high need. 

• 70% of responding programs anticipate that they will serve more mentees in the upcoming year than they did before. These programs will need to recruit more volunteers as mentors in order to allow for these additional matches. 

Recent research by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership found that one in three young people across the country will grow up without a mentor (“The Mentoring Effect: Young People's Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring”) 

This same research showed that young people who were at-risk for not completing high school but who had a mentor reported higher educational aspirations and matriculation into post-secondary education, as well as greater engagement in positive activities. Those who had mentors were: 

• 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor. 

• 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. 

• Nearly nine in ten respondents who had a mentor said they are now interested in 

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