The School of Public Health’s Harvard Mentoring Project and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership have launched their second annual National Mentoring Month (NMM) campaign – a public/private initiative aimed at recruiting mentors for kids who are at risk of not achieving their potential.
In numerous states and cities across the country, leading nonprofit organizations have joined together with government agencies and media companies to support the campaign.
At the national level, top Hollywood stars, political leaders, athletes, and journalists are participating, including: Tom Brokaw, Deepak Chopra, Walter Cronkite, Gwen Ifill, Sen. John McCain, Edward James Olmos, Gen. Colin Powell, Bill Russell, Tim Russert, Martin Sheen, and Mike Wallace. The White House is supporting the effort through the President’s USA Freedom Corps initiative.
The campaign’s national media partners include ABC (Disney), CBS (Viacom), Fox (News Corp.), NBC (GE), and several divisions of AOL Time Warner.
The goals of National Mentoring Month are to: 1) raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms; 2) recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs which have waiting lists of young people; and 3) promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring. Research has shown that programs that rely on volunteer mentors can play a powerful role in reducing drug abuse and youth violence while greatly enhancing a young person’s prospects for leading a healthy and productive life.
In January 2002, the Harvard Mentoring Project and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership spearheaded the first-ever National Mentoring Month with the strong support of President George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress, and leading governors and mayors across the country. In more than 40 states and cities, partnerships of mentoring programs, brought together under the umbrella of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, provided a local telephone number for prospective mentors to call, and handled placement of volunteers.
The theme for NMM 2003 is “Who mentored you? Thank them … and pass it on!” The idea behind “Who mentored you?” is to help people connect to the importance of mentoring by encouraging them to think about individuals in their own lives – family members, teachers, coaches, clergy, neighbors – who provided support, showed them the ropes, and helped them become who they are today.
To support the effort, the Book of the Month Club (AOL Time Warner) and Barnes & Noble Publishing released an updated version of Matilda Cuomo’s book, “The Person Who Changed My Life.” Cuomo is the founding chair of Mentoring USA. Her book consists of interviews with 75 leaders in various fields discussing the influence of mentors in their lives, and includes contributions by Tony Bennett, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Gloria Estefan, James Earl Jones, Christopher Reeve, and Diane Sawyer.
The public relations initiative for NMM 2003 includes the launch of a special Web site, www.WhoMentoredYou.org, developed by the Harvard Mentoring Project. The site features video clips and written commentary from prominent people discussing important mentors in their own lives.