President Obama proclaims January as National Mentoring Month, but it is a daily obligation

When was the last time you mentored a young person in your community? It's a fulfilling obligation and responsibility that we all must accept. That's why I'm looking forward to once again speaking at many schools in 2012 because if we don't help guide our young people then our future is in trouble. Let's all do our part.

According to NationalMentoringMonth.org, President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation designating January as National Mentoring Month, saying, “Every day, mentors help young Americans face the challenges of growing into adulthood. By setting a positive example and sharing their time, knowledge and experience, mentors play an essential role in preparing our Nation's youth for a bright future. During National Mentoring Month, we celebrate the contributions of all those who cultivate a supportive environment for the next generation, and we recommit to expanding mentorship opportunities across our country.”

January 2012 marks the 11th anniversary of National Mentoring Month, an annual media campaign to recruit volunteer mentors for young people. Spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR and the Corporation for National and Community Service, this year’s campaign tagline is Invest in the Future. Mentor a Child.

Mentors, backed by quality mentoring programs, play a powerful role in preventing substance abuse and youth violence, as well as boosting academic achievement and workforce readiness. Studies have shown a more than 250 percent return on a $1 investment in mentoring and a myriad of quality of life benefits to the mentor, too. Mentors help build young people’s character and confidence, expand their universe and help them navigate pathways to successful adulthood. Despite this proven impact, the gap between the number of mentors and the number of young people who need a mentor is still too large. While three million young people have a mentor, 15 million need a caring adult mentor in their lives.

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