OFE News Release
Foundation Marks National Mentoring Month by Promoting Mentoring Opportunities Statewide
January 9, 2012
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 2012 national Mentoring Month is “Invest in the Future: Mentor a Child.”
Through its David and Molly Boren Mentoring Initiative, the foundation administers a website at www.okmentors.org with a statewide directory of more than 60 mentoring opportunities. Prospective volunteers can log on to the website or call (405) 236-0006 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 Beverly Woodrome, the newly appointed director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative.
According to research available from the National Mentoring Partnership, youth involved in mentoring are 52 percent less likely to skip school, 46 percent less likely to start using drugs, and 27 percent less likely to start drinking, Woodrome said. Mentoring also has beneficial long-term effects on youth by increasing their chances of high school graduation and college attendance and decreasing the likelihood of substance abuse and other risky behaviors.
Gov. Mary Fallin is supporting the effort by declaring January as Mentoring Month in Oklahoma. “The citizens of Oklahoma recognize that our success depends on helping children succeed in school and reach their full potential in life, and we realize that young people need a solid foundation of support that will help them become well-educated, confident and productive citizens,” she stated in her Mentoring Month proclamation. “Mentoring is a proven, effective strategy that helps children and young adults by matching them with a caring, responsible adult who can provide guidance and direction and build their confidence.”
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 is coordinating a statewide public relations campaign and has established a webpage for Oklahomans to pay tribute to their own mentors at www.okmentors.org.
“We invite people to login and share a tribute or memory of a mentor. It might be a special teacher, coach, friend or boss,” Woodrome said. “The tributes are an opportunity to say ‘thanks’ and to demonstrate the important role that mentors play in our lives.”
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. 26 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. During its 20th anniversary in 2006, the foundation launched the Boren Mentoring Initiative to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs 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. Recently, the foundation expanded its Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations to include sessions for mentoring programs.
National Mentoring Month posters and promotional materials and copies of the booklet “Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring” are available through the foundation office. During Mentoring Month, Woodrome is 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 Beverly Woodrome at (405) 236-0006 or visit the Boren Mentoring Initiative website at www.okmentors.org.