January is National Mentoring Month, but any time is a good time to remember an adult who made a difference in your life. When you were younger, did a teacher, a coach, or another adult give you confidence to succeed? Or perhaps, once you started working, was it a colleague who took an interest in your success? Take a moment to thank them, especially on January 16, 2014, which is Thank Your Mentor Day.
Mentors are needed more than ever today. Did you know that over their lifetime, high school graduates earn 74% more than those who drop out? High school graduation is the single most powerful predictor of whether a young person coming from generations of poverty will break the cycle. That is why United Way is a proud supporter of National Mentoring Month, and why so many United Ways promote mentoring as part of our collective efforts to cut by half the number of young people who drop out of high school.
For example, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas created Destination Graduation to boost graduation rates. Involving mentors and other support from public, voluntary and corporate sector community partners, in 2012 Dallas high school seniors in Destination: Graduation graduated at an 11% higher rate than their peers who weren't in the program.
United Way of Palm Beach County funds and has oversight of eight mentor programs through its initiative, The Mentor Center. The Mentor Center also serves as the hub of the Palm Beach County Mentor Network, a professional affiliation of 17 formal mentor programs working together to elevate mentoring in the community. These local mentor programs oversee about 2,000 mentor matches, with an additional 5,200 children reached by Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast through its mentoring efforts.
To become a mentor, you don't need special skills, just an ability to listen and to offer friendship, guidance and encouragement to a young person. Looking for more inspiration? I hope this video of one of our nation’s great leaders, Colin Powell, will motivate you to take our pledge to become a volunteer reader, tutor or mentor.
You can be someone who matters, to someone who matters. Contact your local United Way to learn how.