January | February 2020

Message From the Administrator: National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month. OJJDP has long understood the vital role mentoring can play to keep at-risk youth on a positive path and help them find their way when they're lost. Between 2016 and 2019, OJJDP-funded mentoring programs served nearly 746,000 youth.

Mentoring can take place in a variety of settings. School-based mentoring includes tutoring and other activities during the school day or after school. Community-based mentoring allows the mentor and child to attend cultural and sporting events and pursue the child's interests such as music, caring for animals, or computer science. Career-based mentoring happens in the workplace and can involve job shadowing and career exploration.

All these forms of mentoring have one thing in common—a consistent relationship with a caring adult or older peer.

Mentors help their mentees face day-to-day challenges and connect them with resources and opportunities. These positive experiences can impact every aspect of a young person's life. Mentored kids are healthier, they feel more connected to the community, and they're more likely to avoid negative influences.

Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52-percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school, 46-percent less likely to start using illegal drugs, and 55 percent more likely to enroll in college.

The positive effects of mentoring extend to the well-being of the entire community. As young people are empowered to live productive and law-abiding lives, schools and neighborhoods become stronger and safer places in which to live and learn.

OJJDP is committed to enhancing the quality and effectiveness of mentoring programs. In fiscal year 2019, our National Mentoring Resource Center offered more than 10,000 hours of training and technical assistance to our grantees and many other programs throughout the country about what works in mentoring.

The National Mentoring Summit is the largest convening of mentoring practitioners, researchers, and advocates in the nation. At last month's summit in Washington, DC, OJJDP delivered comprehensive training for our new mentoring grantees on best practice standards.

Mentoring is a powerful tool that helps ensure that young people grow in positive directions and become productive members of their communities. Millions of youth in this country do not have an adult they can turn to. If you have a heart for kids, I encourage you to volunteer as a mentor.