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Office of the First Lady

For Immediate Release February 3, 1999

                             February 3, 1999

Today, in the East Room of the White House, the First Lady joined by the Attorney General, will announce several public and private initiatives to support mentoring, a proven strategy that keeps kids on the right track. Mrs Clinton will (1) release a report by the Justice Department detailing the benefits of mentoring; (2) announce new federal grants to communities across the country to support mentoring; (3) announce a new guide that provides practical assistance to mentors; and (4) announce a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign to promote mentoring.

A Huge Demand for Involving Caring Adults in the Lives of Children. In the United States, there are about 13.6 million youths under 18 who are defined "at risk" of getting into trouble; roughly half or about 7 million are termed "very high risk" and share a propensity for delinquency, sexual activity, substance abuse and underachievement in school. According to a 1994 study conducted by the Carnegie Foundation, many adolescents spend 40 percent of their time alone, without adult supervision, or with peers who have a negative influence on them. In addition, statistics show that most juvenile crime takes place between the hours of 2 and 8 pm, and that children are also at much greater risk of being the victim of crime during the hours after school, when they are without adult supervision. All children need responsible adults to guide them towards adulthood, but children at risk are especially in need.

New Report Shows Mentoring Works. The First Lady will release a new report: "Juvenile Mentoring Program --1998 Report to Congress," which provides data on the effectiveness of mentoring programs as well as summarizes the initial evaluation of the Department of Justice Juvenile Mentoring Program (JUMP). According to the report, mentoring programs have been proven to reduce youth crime and help young people succeed in school. It reports that in one study participants with mentors were 46% less likely to start using drugs; 27% less likely to start using alcohol; and almost 33% less likely to hit someone. The study reports that the young people paired with mentors were 50% more likely to attend class; felt more competent about doing school work; skipped fewer classes; showed measurable increases in grade point averages; and demonstrated noticeably improved relations with their peers and family members. The JUMP report also provides useful information on approaches to running mentoring programs as well as identifies issues mentoring organizations face.

Expanding Support for Mentors. The First Lady will announce $14 million in JUMP grants, that use mentoring as a tool to keep young people in schools and off the streets. JUMP programs operate in a variety of settings -- such as schools, recreation centers, businesses -- and often involve college students, senior citizens, military personnel, business people, doctors, lawyers, government employees, teachers, and law enforcement as mentors. Mentoring activities include tutoring, job training, and community service and provide young people with discipline, guidance, and personal attention. This year, demand far outstripped supply -- there were 424 applications, and only 73 were awarded. These JUMP grants, which range up to $200,000, will provide more than 7,500 at-risk young people in 37 states with one-on-one mentoring to help keep them in school and away from drugs and crime. In addition, the Department of Justice will provide a $1.6 million grant to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, one of the oldest mentoring organizations in the nation.

New Efforts to Recruit and Support Mentors: Mrs. Clinton will also announce the release of a new guide and a new website to promote mentoring by offering practical assistance on how to become a mentor, build trust, define future goals and provide support to young people. The guide, "How to Be a Great Mentor," is authored by Newsweek, Kaplan, and the National Mentoring Partnership. The companion web site at will provide ongoing support to mentors and mentees, with features including an interactive training curriculum and a bulletin board where mentors can share advice and experiences. The goal of the guide and web site is to help mobilize thousands of adults to touch a young person's life through mentoring.

New Public Service Announcements: The First Lady will also announce a new PSA by Save the Children, in partnership with the Ad Council, that supports their new campaign -- "Do Good: Mentor a Child." The PSA campaign features a toll free number, 1-877-BE-A-MENTOR, which directs callers to their local mentoring organizations, working from a newly created database of mentoring organizations nationwide. Those who call the 1-800 number are connected to an organization in their local area ready to support volunteers and committed to respond in 48 hours. This data base is run by the National Mentoring Partnership and was initially funded by the Department of Justice. This Save the Children PSA is part of a national media effort to promote mentoring, that has been spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project in collaboration with ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, UPN, and WB, 36 cable networks, and leading Hollywood studios. This new support for mentoring builds on the commitment by ABC, which has promoted mentoring for the past three years as an exclusive message of its "Children's First" campaign, generating more than 150,000 calls from viewers seeking more information on volunteering as a mentor.

An Agenda that Promotes Mentoring: These announcements build upon the President's commitment to support mentoring. As part of his FY 2000 budget, the President proposes to double funding -- from $120 million in FY 99 to $240 million in FY 2000 -- for the GEAR UP program, in order to reach 381,000 students. This program supports partnerships between high-poverty middle or junior high schools and colleges to help low-income children prepare for and enroll in college. The President has also proposed $95 million for an "At Risk Youth Initiative," to fund activities such as mentoring and drug and alcohol prevention programs.