Over 40 youth serving organizations have expressed their support for the Youth Mentoring Grant, the only federal grant dedicated to providing investment in quality youth mentoring, by sending letters to the United States House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Collectively, these groups are demonstrating their commitment to mentoring programs across the country who provide essential support for young people as Congress works to determine funding for fiscal year 2018 (FY18).
In the United States, 1 in 3 young people do not have access to a mentor of any kind, constituting the “mentoring gap” that youth advocates strive to close through expanded access to mentoring opportunities. The Youth Mentoring Grant program, housed within the U.S. Department of Justice and focused on prevention and interventions for at-risk youth, helps mentoring programs as they work to close the gap.
“We have seen the incredible and far-reaching impact that the Youth Mentoring Grant has made on mentoring organizations and ultimately on America’s young people,” said MENTOR CEO David Shapiro. “The grant has allowed mentoring organizations to bolster their evidence-based work on mentoring and serve many more young people. This is a critical investment in education, workforce development and safe communities, providing young people with a strong support system as they navigate personal, professional and achievement challenges.”
Law enforcement officers and agencies have also written a letter in support of the Youth Mentoring Grant and the role it plays in fostering trust and positive engagement between young people, law enforcement and their communities. The letter notes that “mentoring can serve as an intervention strategy for young people involved in the juvenile justice system (in addition to a prevention strategy for youth at-risk of entering the system) providing them with guidance and critical support to work towards positive decision-making and away from risky behavior that could harm themselves and their communities.”
Mentoring advocates from across the country have also asked their Members of Congress to increase funds for the grant. In 2014, youth mentoring programs funded through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) served over 100,000 youth and had over 33,000 active mentors. Over 60 U.S. Representatives have signed on to a letter in support of the Young Mentoring Grant and U.S. Senators will sign a similar letter in the coming weeks.
“Young people are a vital resource for our nation. We have an obligation to provide a strong investment in mentoring programs that improve academic achievement, self-confidence and widen social capital for some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. I’m proud to help champion support for this critical program that improves the lives of children across the country,” said Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), who co-led the letter to the House Appropriations Committee.
As Congress considers funding for FY18, you can urge your elected officials to invest in kids throughout the nation by expressing support for the Youth Mentoring Grant. Congress can help close the mentoring gap, but they can’t do it without hearing from you! Visit the Action Center, and use our online tool to send Congress an email.