OFE News Release
Foundation Marks National Mentoring Month by Promoting Mentoring Opportunities Statewide
January 2, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is celebrating National Mentoring Month in January by encouraging Oklahomans to make a difference in a child’s life by becoming a volunteer mentor. The theme for the 2011 national Mentoring Month is “Help Them Get There: Be a Mentor.”
Through its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, the foundation administers a Web site at www.okmentors.org with a statewide directory of more than 80 mentoring opportunities. Prospective volunteers can log on to the Web site or call (405) 410-1523 to learn about mentoring opportunities in their community. In the Tulsa area, prospective volunteers can also call the City of Tulsa Helpline at 211 to learn about mentoring opportunities.
“During Mentoring Month, we want to raise awareness of the need for mentors in our state and encourage Oklahomans to volunteer just one hour a week to make a difference in the life of a child,” said Jennifer Geren, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative. “Research demonstrates that mentoring helps children increase self confidence, strengthen their relationships with others, improve academic performance and make healthier choices.”
The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has been designated as Oklahoma’s official lead organization for National Mentoring Month by the Harvard Mentoring Project. This year, the foundation will present its third annual David and Molly Boren Mentoring Award to recognize an outstanding Oklahoma mentor. The winner, Big Brothers Big sisters volunteer Art Rasher of Tulsa, will be recognized on National Thank Your Mentor Day, Tuesday, Jan. 25, at the State Capitol. The foundation will also recognize finalists Lynn Looper, a volunteer with Chesapeake Energy Corp. Mentoring Program, and Pam Ball, a volunteer with City Care’s Whiz Kids in Oklahoma City.
To help promote Mentoring Month, the Foundation for Excellence has partnered with Red Rock Video Services to create and distribute public service announcements to TV stations statewide featuring Rasher and his Little Brother Victor. The foundation is also distributing print and radio public service announcements statewide.
Geren said Mentoring Month is also a time to recognize the many volunteers, schools, churches and community organizations that are working together to provide a brighter future for many Oklahoma children. Oklahoma mentoring organizations are being encouraged to celebrate Thank Your Mentor Day on Jan. 25 by sending thank-you cards to mentors or hosting events to recognize volunteers.
The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 by then-U.S. Sen. David L. Boren, recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. In 2005, the foundation launched the Boren Mentoring Initiative to promote the growth and development of school-based mentoring statewide. The initiative grew out of Boren’s own commitment to mentoring and the proven impact that mentoring can play on a student’s success in and out of the classroom.
“Think what would happen if all children in Oklahoma had mentors – someone to spend time with them, to tutor them, to love them,” Boren said. “Think how it would transform this state. It would be truly revolutionary!”
Through the mentoring initiative, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is working with mentoring organizations, schools, local education foundations and businesses to promote mentoring as a positive step toward academic excellence. The foundation is also providing training, marketing and networking opportunities for new and established mentoring programs, and encouraging programs to follow established standards for safe and effective practice.
In recent years, the foundation has held workshops for businesses on how to start corporate mentoring programs and presentations on effective school-based mentoring. Most recently, the foundation sponsored workshops on how to measure and evaluate the success of mentoring programs.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative was recognized in September for its role in helping Oklahoma City take action to reduce dropout rates and create brighter futures for young people. America’s Promise Alliance named Oklahoma City among America’s 100 Best Communities for Young People and cited the foundation, among others, for helping increase the number of volunteers in the community.
In addition to providing support for mentoring programs across the state, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence sponsors its own mentoring program, which matches Academic All-State alumni with elementary students in Oklahoma City, Norman, Tulsa, Stillwater and Weatherford.
“Through our All-State alumni mentoring program, we have seen the powerful impact that mentoring can have on the volunteer as well as the child,” Geren said. “Volunteers enjoy mentoring because it gives them a chance to share important life lessons and to be a valued friend to a child who needs them.”
During Mentoring Month, Geren will be available to speak to groups and media about the Boren Mentoring Initiative and ways that citizens can support mentoring in their communities. For more information, contact Jennifer Geren at (405) 410-1523 or visit the Boren Mentoring Initiative Web site at www.okmentors.org.