We celebrated the 2nd Inauguration of President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Day. This month we also observed National Mentoring Month. President Obama recognized January as National Mentoring Month 2013. In his presidential proclamation, Obama noted, “Our American family is bound together by caring individuals who make it their mission to serve others. During National Mentoring Month, we pay special tribute to the men and women who enrich the lives of our young people and fortify the unbreakable bonds between one generation and the next.”[i]
Mentoring is a proven low-cost strategy that improves one’s sense of self-esteem, socialization and academic skills. Mentoring is also attributed to reducing juvenile delinquency. Youth who are mentored at least one hour a week throughout the school year experience a significant advantage. Yet, despite the many advantages of mentoring, our youth are still being absorbed into the criminal justice system at an alarming rate. “On any given day, nearly 23 percent of all young Black men ages 16 to 24 who have dropped out of high school are in jail, prison, or a juvenile justice institution in America. Dropouts become incarcerated at a shocking rate: 23 of every 100 young Black male dropouts were in jail on any given day in 2006-07 compared to only 6 to 7 of every 100 Asian, Hispanic or White dropouts. While young Black men are disproportionately affected, the report found that this crisis cuts across racial and ethnic lines. Male dropouts of all races were 47 times more likely to be incarcerated than their peers of a similar age who had graduated from a four-year college or university.”[ii]
Mentoring programs have become a commonly accepted intervention that is valuable in promoting a youth’s wellbeing and behavior. This underpinning highlights the importance of creating opportunities where youth can have a mentoring experience that balances their social growth and encourages academic success. Your legacy will not be your job performance records, the fact that you paid off your mortgage, nor that you bought a car. It will be the life that you saved! Become a Mentor today!