Mentoring is one of the foremost areas of focus in human services in the country. Three million young people are reported to be in formal one-to-one mentoring relationships today, a six-fold increase from just a decade ago. Youth development experts agree that mentoring is a critical component in any child’s social and emotional development. It builds self-esteem, self-confidence and competency, boosts academic performance and broadens horizons. Mentored youth are far less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, skip school, or resort to violence. They are more likely to do better in school and have better relationships with their parents and peers.
Big Brother Big Sisters is the premier mentoring organization in the United States. Corporate and private funders investing in this program through grants for mentoring include MetLife Foundation, Jack in the Box, Citigroup Foundation, UPS, and Xerox. Recent years have seen the increase of faith-based mentoring initiatives and programs serving children of prisoners. Grants for mentoring are available from all foundations and corporations investing in youth development or youth services.
The value attached to mentoring by government agencies is also apparent by the number of federal and state grants for mentoring available to nonprofit organizations. Federal funding for mentoring programs has increased significantly over the past decade. One federal program that has made millions available annually is the Drug Free Communities Support Mentoring Program (DFC). Other federal and state grant programs with a focus on helping youth and providing grants for mentoring include the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities, Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), as well as various State Departments of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and State Departments of Educations. The federal government signaled its commitment to mentoring in 2006 by forming the new Federal Mentoring Council to improve coordination and better leverage resources among all of the mentoring programs that exist in the federal government.
The above article was written by Saadia Faruqi, author of Best Practices in Grant Seeking: Beyond the Proposal. Saadia has more than 10 years of grant writing and development experience in the nonprofit sector, including at-risk youth, women’s health, domestic violence, science education, adult and family literacy, and the arts. Prior to starting her own grant writing firm, she worked as Grants Administrator at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Houston.