The following story was written by Carmen Phillips. Carmen is the Montgomery County Program Coordinator for Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program and High School High Tech.
January 2021 is the 19th annual National Mentoring Month and I can’t help but wonder where we might all be right now without the influence of a mentor. Imagine, for a moment, a world without Apple Computers, Microsoft or Facebook; a world without Oprah Winfrey, Mother Teresa or even Marlon Brando as the Godfather. This, my friends is a world without mentors. Some of the most successful and brilliant minds of the last century had one thing in common. They all had a mentor.
So, what does it mean to be a mentor? According to world-renowned speaker and author Bob Proctor, “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself and helps bring it out of you.” I’m sure many of you can dig deep and think back to a time in your life when you looked up to someone for direction or guidance and approval. Someone who changed the trajectory of your life. A coach, a teacher or a boss perhaps. Or perhaps, like many young people in America you had no one. Well, you wouldn’t be alone. More than 1 in 3 young people, an estimated 16 million, never had an adult mentor of any kind while they were growing up, according the national report The Mentoring Effect published in 2014. This population includes an estimated 9 million at-risk youth who will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor, making them less likely to graduate high school, go on to college and lead healthy productive lives.
For those 9 million at-risk youth, mentorship is a life-line. It’s make or break and sadly in some cases, life or death. It takes one caring adult to take interest and invest just a little bit of time into a young person’s life to forever change its course. Whether it’s a attending a football game, an occasional bowling night, a weekly text or just checking in on their report card, the smallest investment in a youth’s life results in some of the largest gains. Not only for the youth, but for the mentor and the community in which they live. In fact, according to a study cited by David Shapiro, President and CEO of MENTOR, every dollar invested in quality youth mentoring programs yields a $3 return in benefits to society at a minimum. I think it’s safe to say that even Warren Buffet (who, by the way, mentored Microsoft mogul Bill Gates) would consider that a pretty darn good Return On Investment (ROI).
The Mentoring Effect study also found that 76% of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspire to enroll in and graduate college and 45% of all at-risk youth with a mentor are now enrolled in some form of postsecondary education. So what do the numbers tell us? That mentoring makes a difference; it improves outcomes, it increases graduation rates, it reduces the risk of drug and alcohol use, it builds healthy interpersonal relationships and fosters measurable success in our at-risk youth in America.
So, what’s not to love about Mentoring? If you are interested in helping change the trajectory of a young person’s life and want more information about donating your time, skills or dollars to our at-risk Youth Mentoring Programs here at Easter Seals Greater Houston visit our website at www.EasterSealsHouston.org or reach out to us at 713-838-9050.