January is National Mentoring Month, and this year Arizona’s Children Association is recognizing the annual campaign aimed at expanding mentoring opportunities by identifying additional community mentors to connect with young adults who are transitioning out of foster care.
Arizona’s Children Association’s Thrive Mentor Program matches volunteer mentors with adolescents who are in the process of transitioning out of foster care, to support and guide them. Participants develop supportive, positive relationships that contribute to the achievement of personal, social, and educational growth of their mentee as they transition to an independent life.
“My mentee reaches out often for advice. She was much more withdrawn before. She wants to plan for her future and we’re working on understanding things take time and that not everything needs to be done right away. She is looking at her future in a more positive aspect versus last fall,” Thrive mentor.
Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use. According to the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR), these young people are:
• 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
• 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.
• 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.
• More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.
Yet, the same research shows that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor. Today, in Arizona nearly 1,000 young adults ‘age out’ of foster care every year, on average that is 2-3 youth per day who could benefit from having a mentor.
National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is highest. This year, with the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement – and become involved in real life. Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through those real life decisions.