By Wendy Spencer
Mentoring a young child fosters benefits that last a lifetime.
And let me give you just a few numbers to illustrate that:
- Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class.
- Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking.
- 76% of young adults from traditionally underserved communities who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate from college as compared to only half of young adults from these communities who did not have a mentor. They are also more likely to be enrolled in college.
We also know that mentoring reduces “depressive symptoms” among youth and young adults and increases levels of “social acceptance and academic attitudes” while fostering stronger performance in the classroom.
Yet, despite the evidence that mentoring is one of the most important tools we have to equip our children for success, our nation faces a crisis in connecting young Americans to quality mentors. A recent survey indicates that there is a significant mentoring gap, and it projects that more than one in three young people will never have an adult mentor.
The crisis is even more critical for boys and young men of color: an estimated 9 million young Americans of color are in need of the guidance and support a good mentor can provide.
President Obama knows that an engaged, caring mentor can positively impact the life of a child because he had mentors throughout his personal and professional life. That’s why the President has made mentoring a cornerstone of his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative. And the President has charged our agency, as well as the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services to recruit individuals to serve as mentors to boys and young men of color.
As the President has said, “There are a lot of kids out there who need help, who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?” The “My Brother’s Keeper” Mentoring Campaign will connect youth and young adults to caring mentors who will not only “give them the sense that their country cares” but will also help them to believe in themselves, aspire to new dreams, and climb the ladders of opportunity that President Obama is committed to creating in every American community.
I hope you will join us by becoming a mentor to a child in your community and by spreading the word to your family, friends, colleagues, and others about this important campaign to help more of our youth succeed.
Learn More About MBK
Wendy Spencer is CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, and a member of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force.