January is a time of fresh starts, and a month when many of us reevaluate our commitments and where we are placing our energy and time. Mentoring is a positive and fulfilling way to spend an hour each week positively impacting youth in our community. Every young person deserves to have someone to turn to, yet one in three young people are growing up without a mentor.

The Iowa Mentoring Partnership is a proud supporter of National Mentoring Month each January. As part of a continued effort to focus national attention on the need for mentors, and how each of us — individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits — can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for America’s young people, National Mentoring Month celebrates mentoring and the positive effects it can have on the lives of young people. Throughout the month, local mentoring programs in communities across the state will be celebrating the success of their programs and asking more community members to step forward to make a difference in the life of a young person.

Mentoring helps young people succeed, especially those youth at-risk of becoming disconnected from work, school and the community. Through consistent guidance, support and encouragement, mentors help young people set goals and achieve them. When done well, the stability and security of a mentoring relationship can be the very thing a young person needs most. It’s a gateway to the kind of skill development, goal-setting and belief in one’s self that leads to a fulfilling future.

A report released by MENTOR and informed by the first nationally representative survey of young people on the topic of mentoring, The Mentoring Effect, looked deeper into this topic, and found that mentored youth set higher educational goals and are 55 percent more likely to attend college than those without a mentor. These positive outcomes are especially critical as we confront the millions of young people between the ages of 16 to 24 who are currently neither in school nor employed.

These young people are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, hold leadership positions and often possess higher levels of confidence necessary to succeed in school or at work.

With an increasing number of youth growing up under the stress of financial insecurity, with incarcerated parents and in transience, mentoring has the potential to improve the social and economic opportunity of millions of kids if we have the public and political will to insist on it, and make the necessary investments of time and money. We cannot leave this powerful asset to chance.

Each of us stand on the shoulders of mentors who helped us get to where we are today. There is no better way to repay that debt of gratitude than by mentoring a youth to reach their fullest potential. I encourage each of you to find out more about how you can get involved with youthmentoring at iowamentoring.org

About Iowa Mentoring Partnership

The Iowa Mentoring Partnership (IMP) serves as the certifying body for youth mentoring programs in Iowa, advancing the quality of the mentoring field by providing professional development, engaging stakeholders to increase the number of mentors and creating awareness of the positive benefits of youth mentoring as a proven youth development strategy.

IMP is a collaborative program of Volunteer Iowa and works to build relationships between government, private and public agencies in support of youth mentoring which is essential for strengthening families, communities and the state of Iowa. More information is available at iowamentoring.org.

About Volunteer Iowa (or Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service)

Volunteer Iowa and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information is available at volunteeriowa.org.