Campus & Community

January is National Mentoring Month

3 min read

Who mentored you?

That’s the question the Harvard Mentoring Project (HMP), an initiative of the Harvard School of Public Health (SPH), is asking this month.

January 2002 marks the launch of National Mentoring Month, a public service campaign created and spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project (HMP) in collaboration with AOL Time Warner, the ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox television networks, the National Mentoring Partnership, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and other nonprofit groups. The goal is to recruit volunteer mentors for children from underprivileged backgrounds. The campaign will repeat each January.

“To generate a national conversation about the importance of mentoring, the campaign is encouraging people to think about individuals in their own lives who guided them, showed them the ropes, and helped them become who they are today,” says Susan Moses, co-director of the Harvard Mentoring Project along with Jay Winsten, the Frank Stanton Director of the center and a Harvard School of Public Health (SPH) associate dean. Moses also is the center’s deputy director.

“Today, too many kids don’t get enough of that kind of support,” Moses said. “Schools and after-school programs have waiting lists of young people seeking to be matched with mentors. Our slogan for National Mentoring Month is ‘Who mentored you?’ and the call-to-action is ‘Thank them … and pass it on.’”

The public health impact of mentoring is significant, Moses says. “Research has shown that introducing a mentor into a young person’s life helps prevent drug abuse and youth violence, while greatly enhancing a young person’s prospects for leading a fulfilling and productive life.”

The campaign’s national television ads were produced by HBO (AOL Time Warner) with Tom Fontana (executive producer of the HBO series “Oz”) donating his services as director and executive producer. The ads feature young people of different ethnic backgrounds speaking directly to the camera, unscripted, about their hopes and dreams. The ads close with a tag line encouraging adults to “help them get there” by volunteering as a mentor. HBO has made the TV spots widely available, and the ads currently are running on local TV stations and cable programming networks across the country, including on many Time Warner cable systems.

The U.S. Postal Service today (Jan. 10) is holding a “First Day of Issue” ceremony in Annapolis, Md., to mark the release of a 34-cent “Mentoring a Child” postage stamp; a total of 125 million stamps are being printed.