January 1, 2006, marked the launch of the fifth annual National Mentoring Month (NMM) campaign—a public-private initiative to recruit volunteer mentors for young people who are at risk of not achieving their full potential. This nationwide drive to recruit volunteer mentors for young people targeted America’s 77 million baby boomers. The campaign’s message to boomers: “Share What You Know. Mentor A Child!”
The “first wave” of boomers mark their milestone 60th birthday this year. Thanks to the longevity revolution, the average 60-year-old can expect to live to 83, and many will continue well into their 90s. The Harvard School of Public Health–MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement recently released a major report documenting an “unprecedented opportunity” on the horizon to mobilize millions of boomers as community volunteers as some of the demands of work and family that commanded their attention in mid-life recede. (The complete report is available online at www.ReinventingAging.org.)
President George W. Bush, Former President Bill Clinton, and leading governors and mayors across the nation participated in the campaign. Top Hollywood stars, athletes, and journalists also took part, including: Richard Dreyfuss, Senator John Glenn, Quincy Jones, Edward James Olmos, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Brian Williams. The campaign’s national media partners included CBS Television, Comcast, Fox Broadcasting, NBC Television, National Association of Broadcasters, Time Warner Cable, and Viacom Outdoor.
During January 2006, more than 100,000 people visited www.WhoMentoredYou.org (the website of the Harvard Mentoring Project), www.mentoring.org (the web site of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership) and www.bbbsa.org (the web site of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America) to find out more about mentoring opportunities in their area.
In January 2002, the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership spearheaded the first-ever National Mentoring Month. In more than 50 states and cities, partnerships of mentoring programs, brought together under the umbrella of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, provide a local telephone number for prospective mentors to call, and handled placement of volunteers. In many other markets, similar roles were played by local affiliates of America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Communities In Schools, and Points of Light Foundation.
Goals of National Mentoring Month are:
raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms
recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs
that have waiting lists of young people
promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations
to engage their constituents in mentoring
Research has shown that programs which rely on volunteer mentors can play a powerful role in reducing drug abuse and youth violence, while greatly enhancing a young person's prospects for leading a healthy and productive life.
Local Non-profit Partners
In more than 50 states and cities, local partnerships of mentoring programs convened steering committees of community leaders, created an action plan for NMM, secured media commitments in their markets, provided local telephone numbers for prospective mentors to call, responded to inquiries from the public, and referred prospective volunteers to appropriate mentoring agencies. In many of the largest media markets, a single television network affiliate served as the local lead TV partner for NMM, and sponsored a month-long, station-wide, on-air campaign in collaboration with the campaign's local lead nonprofit partner.
National Non-profit and Government Partners
The Harvard Mentoring Project and MENTOR led the NMM 2006 effort. Nonprofit partners included:
The Advertising Council
America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Corporation for National & Community Service
National Association of Broadcasters
National Mentoring Center
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network
USA Freedom Corps
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NMM 2006 marked the publication of Mentoring a Movement: My Personal Journey, a memoir by Dr. Susan Weinberger, president of the Mentor Consulting Group and board member of MENTOR. The book is an historical account of the modern mentoring movement from Dr. Weinberger's perspective over two decades.
Thank Your Mentor Day
As the centerpiece of NMM 2006, the third annual Thank Your Mentor Day™ was celebrated on January 25, 2006. On that day, Americans across the country reached out to thank or honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them, and who had a lasting impact on their lives.
Your Mentor Day promotes "Three Ways to Honor your
your mentor to express your appreciation;
it on" by becoming a mentor to a young person in your
write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the campaign's
To support the effort, the Harvard Mentoring Project’s web site, www.WhoMentoredYou.org, presented video clips and written essays contributed by prominent individuals from various fields sharing recollections about important mentors from their childhood and young adult years. Contributors included Tom Brokaw, the late Ray Charles, Deepak Chopra, former president Bill Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Richard Dreyfuss, Antwone Fisher, former Senator John Glenn, Darrell Green, Gwen Ifill (PBS), Quincy Jones, Larry King (CNN), Senator John McCain, Edward James Olmos, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Harold Prince, Cal Ripken, Jr., Bill Russell, Tim Russert (NBC News), Martin Sheen (The West Wing, NBC), Mike Wallace (CBS News), Brian Williams (NBC News), and Oprah Winfrey. During January, the web site also provided access to on-line greeting cards, created for the campaign by Hallmark Cards, enabling people to reach out via e-mail to thank mentors who made significant contributions to their lives. The web site promoted the theme of “Pass it on!” and provided links to www.mentoring.org, the web site of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, for information on mentoring programs in communities across the country that need volunteers.
In support of Thank Your Mentor DayTM, tributes from individuals thanking their mentors were posted on WhoMentoredYou.org. These meaningful stories of the impact of mentoring from people of all ages and backgrounds are an inspiration to potential mentors.
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Former President Clinton taped a public service announcement (PSA) directed primarily to the Baby Boomer Generation as it marks its milestone 60th birthday. The former president urged Boomers to “Share what you know. Become a mentor.” The PSA was produced by the Harvard School of Public Health, based on a videotaped interview with President Clinton. Additional excerpts from the interview, in which he discussed important mentors in his early life, are posted on the campaign’s web site, www.WhoMentoredYou.org.
Film and stage actor Richard Dreyfuss, himself a leading-edge boomer, was featured in a television PSA supporting the campaign. This PSA also celebrated the 10th anniversary of Mr. Holland’s Opus, one of Hollywood’s most memorable films about mentoring, which starred Dreyfuss as a passionate and committed music teacher. The positive public response to the film inspired the creation of the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation (www.mhopus.org), which donates musical instruments to schools and young people who would not otherwise have access to them; thousands of young people have benefited from the Foundation’s work.
Another highlight of NMM 2006 was breakthrough advertising created by Trailer Park (Los Angeles) and News Corp. in collaboration with the Los Angeles Mentoring Partnership (LAMP). This humorous PSA features a rapid-fire series of soundbites in which top celebrities share a special or quirky skill that they could teach to a young person. Celebrities appearing in the PSA include Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Roger Daltrey, Matt Damon, Jimmy Fallon, Andy Garcia, Ashton Kutcher, Tommy Lasorda, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jeffrey Tambor.
Other ads supporting the campaign, produced by the Harvard Mentoring Partnership, included a spotlight on an adult and young person matched as a result of last January’s campaign, in addition to PSAs featuring Edward James Olmos, Quincy Jones, and Cal Ripken, Jr.
The CBS and NBC television networks also aired mentoring PSAs, produced and sponsored by each network, featuring top actors from prime time shows, including: Eric Close (Without a Trace, CBS), Carson Daly (Last Call with Carson Daily, NBC), Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas, NBC), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, CBS), Marg Helgenberger (CSI, CBS), and Kevin James (King of Queens, CBS).
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To promote the theme of “Share What You Know,” a print ad was developed by the Harvard Mentoring Project. Featuring a photo of two penguins spreading their wings, the ad states “Share What You Know. Become a Mentor.” It reminds people that “it doesn’t take special skills to mentor a child—just a willingness to listen, offer encouragement, and share what you’ve learned about life.” The ad directs readers to WhoMentoredYou.org to learn more about becoming a mentor.
The print ad was featured in Newsweek, Ode, People, and Real Simple.
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The Harvard Mentoring Project’s ongoing national media is an initiative of the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication, which previously created the National Designated Driver Campaign.
The Harvard Mentoring Project is supported by grants from MetLife Foundation and the MCJ Foundation. Major in-kind support for NMM 2006 was provided by the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC television networks; the National Association of Broadcasters; News Corp.; and Time Warner.
For more information on Thank Your Mentor Day™ and National Mentoring Month, visit www.WhoMentoredYou.org.
Who Mentored You? , Thank Your Mentor
Day , and Share What You Know are trademarked
initiatives of the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard
School of Public Health.