National Mentoring Day celebrates the incredible mentors that are changing the lives of young people everywhere. The act of mentorship has helped children and young people become engaged and empowered in their passions to realize their potential. There are examples found in all areas of our communities about adults who provided steady support, experience, and encouragement to positively influence the development of a young person. Not only do mentors help foster the healthy growth of youth, they also help them overcome difficult social circumstances and learning environments.
According to a study conducted by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health, mentoring youth is linked to a decrease in behavioral problems, such as bullying, fighting, lying, and irresponsible expressions of anger. The need for mentorship for youth was also discussed in a study from the National Institute of Health, which showed that with a consistent mentor, young people experienced an increase in confidence and reported a better quality of life. Youth also received fewer intervened mental health therapy because of strong mentoring programs.
Mentors for youth are actively changing the landscape for generations to come in challenging communities. Brigham Young University conducted a study that proved disadvantaged youth are twice as likely to attend college when they have an active and positive mentor.
In September at the first annual Community Mentor Summit in San Diego, many of these facts were addressed and recognized. The event brought together young people, mentorship program leaders, juvenile justice systems leaders, and many other stakeholders to galvanize support for the ongoing expansion and professionalization of the work of Community Mentors in San Diego. Community Mentors are street outreach workers who partner with young people who are involved with the juvenile justice system to provide trusting relationships that help them grow up to achieve their goals and be leaders in their community.
Mentorship Working Group
As part of one of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative’s (CHMI) Blueprint for Action’s Bold Action Steps — diverse, collaborative goals for progressing the health and wellness of children and families in San Diego — a working group focused on coaching and mentorship has been established. Working Group members have met monthly since March of 2018 to achieve their Bold Action Step: increasing the reach and effectiveness of peer mentorship programs for emancipated youth, and mentoring for juvenile justice-involved youth, that provide training in life skills, obtaining employment, and accessing public resources.
With this in mind, the San Diego Mentorship Network, facilitated by the working group, will launch in 2019 as a supportive and interactive space that connects program leaders, young people, service providers, and interested citizens to achieve more positive outcomes for youth. The San Diego Mentorship Network will be a physical and virtual community that enhances collaboration between programs by promoting existing work and driving recruitment through outreach and events; creating program partnerships between organizations that could involve the sharing of resources, increases referrals of mentors and mentees, celebrates individual and programmatic successes, and facilitates capacity-building opportunities such as mentorship program planning and operations; community engagement; diversity, inclusion, and cultural relevance; and Trauma-Informed Care. It will include an easily-searchable, tailored directory of mentorship programs for the community to use.
The working group’s first step toward this goal is to launch an organizational assessment, in November 2018, with the purpose of forming an in-depth picture of the diverse mentorship programs currently working across San Diego County, including their strategies, operations, and desire for capacity-building, among other subjects.
Live Well Breakout
CHMI partnered with the San Diego County Probation Department at the annual Live Well San Live Well Advance, a one day meeting of 1,300 stakeholders to advance the region’s vision for community health and well-being in San Diego on October 2 to convene a breakout session on the topic of mentorship. The session consisted of a panel discussion featuring Felicity Torbert, Youth Leader, Project A.W.A.R.E; Asst. Chief Ruben Littlejohn, San Diego County Probation; Dana Brown, Executive Director, Youth Voice; and Tracy Morris, Executive Director, The Blue Heart Foundation. The panelists shared their personal experiences with mentorship and the life-altering impact mentors can have for young people who have been involved, or are at-risk for, involvement with the juvenile justice system.
CHMI staff Alex Chan and Jeff Weiner then facilitated a conversation with session attendees on what can be done to support expanding mentorship programs in San Diego County and issued a call to action to expand the reach and effectiveness of those efforts. Audience members signed up to support mentorship efforts that are aligned with CHMI’s Blueprint for Action in a number of ways, including contributing mentors and coaches, financial resources, and advisory services to existing and planned programs.
Read more about September’s Community Mentor Summit here and here, and stay tuned for additional updates on the San Diego Mentorship Network and the work being done to positively impact young peoples’ lives.
We believe that the inclusive coalition we’re building can improve the health and well-being of families whose lives are touched by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Please look to our Blueprint for Action, which identifies specific actions that the coalition is taking to bring about sustainable, systemic change.
Mentoring matters: how the San Diego Mentorship Network will impact youth was originally published in The Clinton Foundation on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.