This past year, over 3,500 youth across the country were given a life-changing opportunity. As a part of the Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative, organizations across the U.S. matched these kids with caring and consistent adult mentors. An increasing amount of research shows that a high quality mentor can increase school attendance, lower dropout rates, decrease involvement with drugs and violent behavior, and empower youth to see themselves as leaders.
Mentoring is an important aspect of the work in nearly all of our local leadership foundations and strategic partners. Knowing this, the LF Central Office went to work coordinating a network of 45 organizations and partners across the United States and secured a one year $3 million grant from the Department of Justice to grow and enhance the effectiveness of these mentoring programs. The result is the Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative (LFMI).
As participants reflected on the last year, many shared what being a part of LFMI has meant for the kids being served, their organizations, and their cities:
Urban Ventures shared the story of Sean an 8th grader, who is a part of their mentoring program–the Hub. Similar to many of the youth in the program, Sean has had many experiences that created obstacles to healthy relationships, healthy living, education and a successful future life. At home, adults move in and out of his life, there is no quiet space to do homework, and often not enough food for dinner. He has also seen his brother make mistakes and be taken to juvenile detention, and consequently Sean is determined to stay out of trouble and jail. Sean’s touchstone to success personally, educationally and economically is his mentor and the programs at the Hub. This summer, under a canopy of more stars than he ever saw or knew existed away from city lights, Sean had time and quiet to reflect and talk with his mentor about his dreams and hopes for his future. They talked late into the night, one to another, hoping and planning together how Sean will make his dreams of the future a reality. The LFMI grant was leveraged in significant life changing ways with thousands of other kids like Sean who now have a caring adult mentor investing in their future.
Goodcity and Power of Purpose, stated that LFMI has opened up a wide range of new opportunities in Chicago. The initiative facilitated first-time collaborations between community-based groups and helped ensure best practices were being used in their mentoring programs. Javin Foreman, Director of Power of Purpose, reported that the LFMI funding and support “allowed us to work smarter, reach more young people, and ensure that our mentors were prepared to give their best efforts.”
Patricia Talton, President of the Northwest Leadership Foundation and the National Director of LFMI, reflected, “The Leadership Foundations Mentoring Initiative serves as a powerful demonstration of how strategic partnerships can leverage more than any one organization or group. In 2012, the Leadership Foundations along with New Vision Renewable Energy and COPAHNI embarked on a journey that allowed us to change the lives of over 3,500 young people. But we are even more proud of the fact that more communities in the U.S. now have critical supports (i.e., caring adults) for young people that add to the social infrastructure.”