Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $3,000,000)
The Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative, Category 2 (Multi-State Mentoring Program) provides funding to support mentoring organizations in their efforts to strengthen and/or expand their existing mentoring activities within local chapters or sub-awardees (in at least 5 states but fewer than 45 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 encouraged to target their mentoring services to American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth; children of parents on active military duty; children of incarcerated parents; youth with disabilities; youth with opioid/substance abuse problems; and youth in rural communities. This program is authorized and funded pursuant to Pub L. No. 115-141, 132 Stat. 348, 423.
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (CRSF), a Baltimore-based 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization, uses research-aligned practices to connect at-risk youth with caring, adult mentors in small mentoring groups across the nation. Its target population is youth ages 914 in communities with multiple risk factors (poverty, drugs, gangs) for juvenile delinquency and other circumstantial obstacles that prevent them from successfully transitioning to adulthood. Strained relationships between law enforcement and community membersas seen in Baltimore and other U.S. citiesundermine efforts to build safer communities. Badges for Baseball (Badges) help break down these barriers by pairing at-risk youth with civilian, law enforcement, public safety, and military mentors who participate in structured, afterschool programs that assist youth build life skills, stay in school, and make positive behavioral decisions, propelling them to success in life. By engaging law enforcement officers as mentors, Badges creates an environment for officers and at-risk youth to build healthy, strong relationships that promote safer communities.
Each federal dollar from the FY 2018 OJJDP Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative funds will be matched with private funds raised by CRSF, allowing it to reach 65 communities across 19 states and the District of Columbia, broadening its reach and deepening its impact on mentors and mentees. CRSF uses three elements in their approach: (1) structured mentoring activities for mentors and youth; (2) enhanced mentor training (in-person and web-based) on research-aligned practices; and (3) communitywide partnerships and familial engagement around Badges.
CRSF builds local, state, and national partnerships to ensure program success. Significant collaborations include those with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, U.S. Marshals Service, Baltimore Police Department, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Mississippi Department of Human Services, Washington/Baltimore HIDTA, Office of the Ohio Attorney General, Maryland State Police, and many others. CRSF aims to engage 25,000 youth with 1,000 trained mentors through transformative, life-changing experiences.