Experience shows that volunteers are retained partially by maintaining a high quality school-based mentoring program. YouthFriends has attained a high degree of success in this area as more than 63 percent of active YouthFriends volunteers typically return from one school year to the next. Compare this with national research that shows approximately 70 percent of adult/youth matches terminate within the first 90 days.
YouthFriends Keeps Growing
What began as a pilot in six Greater Kansas City school districts with 140 volunteers has grown to include a network of more than 70 school districts in two states (Missouri and Kansas) and over the past 14 years those school districts have screened, trained and placed more than 39,000 mentors who have positively touched the lives of more than 260,000 young people in one-to-one and group relationships. (Download YouthFriends Vital Statistics here.)
The YouthFriends effort came about as a result of focus groups among young people. They said to become successful, they needed more caring, positive adult role models involved in their lives.
Setting the Standard
To share its school based-mentoring knowledge nationally, YouthFriends organized and hosted the first-ever National School-Based Mentoring Conference in 2003 and again in 2005 and 2007. The most recent conference drew attendees from more than 30 states, Bermuda and Canada.
YouthFriends also launched mentormap.org (formerly sbmentoring.org) to serve as a resource for other school-based mentoring programs.
Additionally, the national evaluator for the U.S. Justice Department JUMP grants and a leading researcher on mentoring have both acknowledged YouthFriends as one of the most successful school-based mentoring efforts in the country, and one that is unmatched in its ability to integrate mentoring into the school district infrastructure.
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