Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $3,000,000)
The Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative, Category 1 (National Mentoring Program) provides funding to support national mentoring organizations (those with local chapters or sub-awardees in at least 45 states) in their efforts to strengthen and/or expand their existing mentoring activities within local chapters or sub-awardees in at least 38 states to reduce juvenile delinquency, drug abuse (specifically opioid abuse), truancy, and other problem and high-risk behaviors. FY 2018 funding will address the factors that can lead to or serve as a catalyst for delinquency or other problem behaviors in underserved youth, including youth in high-risk environments. Programs are required to target American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth, and are also highly encouraged to target their mentoring services to children of parents on active military duty; children of incarcerated parents; youth with disabilities; youth impacted by opioids; and youth in rural communities. This program is authorized and funded pursuant to Pub. L. No. 115-141, 132 Stat. 348, 423.
National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA), a mentoring agency in 49 states and Washington, DC, will use grant funding to provide leadership to CASA programs across the U.S. and subgrant more than 90 percent of the award to state and local CASA organizations. Objectives are to increase the number of CASA volunteers by 3,950, increase the number of program youth served by 9,950, decrease the number of youth who offend/reoffend, increase the number of youth passing grade level and improving skills and outcomes, and provide volunteers with evidence-based mentor support and training.
The target populations for this proposal are AI/AN youth, youth living in rural areas, and youth impacted by the opioid crisis. National CASA has a Tribal Leadership Council that is engaged in identifying strategies for successfully improving mentorship to AI/AN youth and that brings AI/AN-specific trainings and heightened cultural competency to the CASA network.
Proposed program enhancements include developing and providing a training on how the opioid epidemic impacts youth and how to serve these youth more effectively, implementing recruiting strategies focused on the target populations, and implementing outreach initiatives for AI/AN communities as guided by the Tribal Leadership Council and the previously mentioned focus groups. To better serve youth living in rural areas, National CASA is employing a growth strategy to expand or create programs to serve multiple jurisdictions in rural areas. This strategy has been successful in some areas of the National CASA network and the project will also consider new ways to maximize services in these areas, including technology for recruitment and volunteer supervision.