Nina, PTM’s Elementary Program Director, went to McKissack Middle School to have lunch with her mentee, Dee. She entered this conversation with a boy she didn’t know next to Dee in the office.
Boy: Are you Dee’s mentor?
Boy: I’m too bad to have a mentor…and I’m too old.
Sadly, his “confession” reveals the absence of a mentor in his life and the longing he has for another caring adult in his life.
The research promoting the power of mentoring is impressive:
• Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are: 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. (Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters)
• Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor. (The Mentoring Effect, 2014)
According to an article by Tim Elmore, President of Growing Leaders, the number one predictor of success for youth is “getting connected to the right people”. I have been a huge proponent of mentoring since PTM started its lunchmate program in 1999, but after reading Hardwired to Connect and the research around “connectedness”, I have become even more convinced that mentoring is essential for PTM students to be able to pursue God-inspired dreams. Hardwired cites the work of Michael Resnick who concludes:
Numerous researchers have demonstrated the protective impact of extra-familial adult relationships for young people, including other adult relatives, friends’ parents, teachers, or adults in health and social service settings, among others. This sense of connectedness to adults is salient as a protective factor against an array of health-jeopardizing behaviors of adolescents and has protective effects for boys and girls across various ethnic, racial and social class groups.
Most PTM students grow up in the “health-jeopardizing” context of a low income neighborhood, non-traditional families, lower-performing schools, above average exposure to crime and violence, nutritional deficiencies, and often unstable housing. With more involved and caring adults investing in their lives, their chances of success are multiplied.
At PTM, one of the crucial gifts we offer to students is the chance to be connected to a caring adult through one of our mentoring programs. PTM currently has 180 one-on-one mentoring matches. I am thankful for that and excited about the wonderful stories I hear. We have nearly 100 students on a waiting list for a mentor. We have four mentoring programs: lunchmates (once a week over lunch in school cafeteria), Breakfast and Bible Study (Thursday mornings from 6:45-7:45), SnackChat (Wednesday afternoons from 1:45-2:15), and Dinner and Devo (Monday evenings from 6:00-7:30). If you are looking for a way to serve (with the very real likelihood of significant personal benefit), please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information and to get started.