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Invest in the Future: Mentor a Child

by Robert Velasco, II

Today, too many young people in America are struggling.

More than a million students drop out of high school each year and one in every three do not graduate on time. The problem is even more severe among African American and Latino youth, and those from low-income backgrounds.

There are several factors contributing to such dismal statistics, but at the root of the problem is the fact that many of these young people do not have the benefit of a caring and committed adult in their lives—a person to guide them in the right direction.

Mentors can make the difference.

Mentoring is a proven way to ensure students complete their education. Young people with a mentor are more likely to attend and engage in school, complete high school and even continue on to college.

That is why the Corporation for National and Community Service brings caring mentors to more than one million underserved children and young people each year through our AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs. We also build the capacity of mentoring organizations through our programs, such as the Social Innovation Fund.

This week, we joined with MENTOR, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Harvard School of Public Health, United Way Worldwide, and other partners to host the 2012 National Mentoring Summit. The theme of this second annual Summit is, “Invest in the Future: Mentor a Child.”

Nearly 500 Administration officials, civic leaders, mentoring researchers, corporate executives, and representatives of national youth mentoring organizations came together to discuss ways to promote and expand quality mentoring for our nation's youth. But there is more work to do.

Putting more young people – from all backgrounds and all walks of life – on the path to a more promising future is a national imperative, and each of us can help. As First Lady Michelle Obama said at last year's Summit, “ Kids don't need you to be Superman, they just need you to be there.”

Mentors bring out the very best in our young people, and help them realize their full potential. A committed, unwavering mentor can change the trajectory of a young person's life.

Every young person in America deserves that chance. Invest in the future. Mentor a child.

Visit serve.gov/mentor to learn more.

Robert Velasco, II is Acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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