Exactly 699 Oklahoma coaches from 204 communities in 73 counties participated in the fifth annual Oklahoma Coaches Mentoring Challenge, a campaign to encourage Oklahomans to mentor young people in their communities.
The 2018-19 campaign was kicked off with endorsements from OSU Head Football Coach Mike Gundy and OU Head Football Coach Lincoln Riley in collaboration with state mentoring organizations and the Boren Mentoring Initiative, a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. During the campaign, coaches from public and private elementary and secondary schools, as well as many colleges and universities in Oklahoma stepped up to endorse mentoring. Prospective mentors can learn about volunteer opportunities on the campaign website at www.okcoacheschallenge.org.
“We are grateful to the many coaches who have lent their voices in a unified call for youth mentors in Oklahoma,” said Beverly Woodrome, director of the Boren Mentoring Initiative. “As natural and group mentors, coaches know firsthand the impact that a mentor can have on the academic, social, emotional and economic futures of our young people. Mentoring is critical to the future of our state, providing workforce and quality-of-life development.
“Coaches consistently tell me they see students who are not involved in sports or organized school activities who would benefit from a mentor,” Woodrome added. “By endorsing the Coaches Mentoring Challenge, they are sending a message that they value mentoring and see a critical need for more volunteers to spend an hour a week mentoring young people in their communities.”
The Coaches Mentoring Challenge began in 2008 as a friendly competition between mentoring advocates Coach Tom Osborne of the University of Nebraska and Coach Bill Snyder at Kansas State University. Since then, many coaches from universities, colleges and secondary schools around the country have signed up to endorse mentoring.
According to MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, it is estimated that one in three young people is in need of a mentor – someone to listen, to encourage and to set a positive example. One of the greatest challenges facing mentoring programs in Oklahoma is the shortage of volunteers. Mentors are needed to serve young people from Pre-K through young adults in college and Career Tech. “The Coaches Mentoring Challenge has helped raise awareness about the need for more mentors across the state and has even generated some interest in starting new mentoring programs,” Woodrome said.
The Boren Mentoring Initiative is a program of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a statewide nonprofit that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in public schools. The mentoring initiative, named for foundation founder and chairman David L. Boren and his wife, Molly, grew out of their shared support for mentoring and its proven impact on student success in and out of the classroom.
The initiative was launched in 2006 to promote the growth and development of quality youth mentoring programs statewide, providing free consulting and resources. The Mentoring Initiative also celebrates the impact of mentoring by honoring outstanding volunteers at the annual Oklahoma Mentor Day. As a resource for those seeking a mentor or mentoring opportunities, the initiative hosts a directory of 328 Oklahoma mentoring organizations on its website at www.okmentors.org.
“We are happy to meet with schools, churches, businesses and others interested in starting a mentoring program in their community,” Woodrome said. “Research has shown that the most positive outcomes of mentoring are improved academic performance, positive mentor-mentee relationships, improved behavior, increased self-esteem and greater enrichment opportunities for participating youth.”
For more information, visit www.okcoacheschallenge.org or contact Woodrome at (405) 590-4063.