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National Mentoring Month
Year One Report (2002)

January 1, 2002 marked the launch of the first annual National Mentoring Month--a large-scale public service campaign conducted in collaboration with some of the nation's largest media companies and leading nonprofit organizations. The campaign's goal is to recruit volunteer mentors to work with children who are at risk of not leading healthy, productive lives. Research has shown that introducing a mentor into a young person's life can play a powerful role in preventing drug abuse and youth violence, while greatly enhancing a young person's prospects for leading a fulfilling and productive life. Mentoring programs in communities across the country have waiting lists of young people seeking to be matched with volunteer mentors.

National Mentoring Month consists of a concentrated burst of national and local media activity combined with extensive community outreach and White House and Congressional involvement. The campaign provides an annual opportunity for the media and the nation to re-focus attention on the importance of providing mentors for young people who are at risk of not achieving their full potential. In addition to its national focus, the campaign includes a heavy emphasis on local communities, with an initial concentration on the top 25 media markets. National Mentoring Month is intended to energize and empower community and statewide mentoring initiatives, and encourage community-wide planning and coordination among mentoring groups.

In its inaugural year, the campaign won the strong support of President George W. Bush, the United States House of Representatives, governors and mayors across the country, several of the nation's largest media companies, and leading nonprofit organizations. The U.S. Postal Service marked National Mentoring Month by issuing a 34-cent "Mentoring A Child" postage stamp; 125 million stamps were printed.

Here are details of the Year One experience:

Campaign Management

The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership spearheaded the development of National Mentoring Month. Harvard provided strategic direction and coordinated all media efforts. MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership, a leading advocate for the expansion of mentoring, coordinated national and local fulfillment and the involvement of other nonprofit organizations. A Mentoring Media Working Group, convened and chaired by the Harvard Mentoring Project and including representatives from leading media and nonprofit organizations and government agencies, provided guidance on campaign planning and implementation.

National Nonprofit Partners

The campaign's national nonprofit partners included:

The Advertising Council
America's Promise-The Alliance for Youth
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
The Child Welfare League of America
Communities In Schools
Mentoring USA
National Association of Broadcasters
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
Points of Light Foundation
Save the Children

National Media Partners

The campaign's national media partners included: AOL Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom, News Corp., General Electric, The Washington Post Company, and The New York Times Company.

AOL Time Warner mobilized several of its divisions to support the campaign, including HBO; the Turner Networks; Time, Inc.; America Online; Warner Bros. Television; and the AOL Time Warner Foundation. The four leading broadcast networks, ABC (Disney), CBS (Viacom), Fox (News Corp.), and NBC (GE), provided strong support through network-produced public service announcements (PSAs) which ran in prime time. All the national ads carried MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership's toll-free number (1-888-432-MENTOR), and web address (, enabling individuals to obtain information about mentoring programs in their own communities that need volunteers. Full-page ads supporting the campaign, co-sponsored by the Harvard Mentoring Project and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, appeared during January in donated space in The New York Times, Newsweek (Washington Post Company), People (AOL Time Warner), and Time (AOL Time Warner).

State and Local Partners

In more than 40 states and cities, local partnerships of mentoring programs convened a steering committee of community leaders; created an action plan for National Mentoring Month; secured media commitments in their market; provided a local telephone number for prospective mentors to call; responded to inquiries from the public, and referred prospective volunteers to appropriate mentoring agencies.

Local Television Partners

In many of the largest media markets, a single television network affiliate served as the local lead TV partner for National Mentoring Month, and sponsored a month-long, station-wide, on-air campaign in collaboration with the campaign's local lead nonprofit partner. The local lead TV partners included: WJZ (Baltimore), WHDH (Boston), WMAQ (Chicago), WBNS (Columbus, OH), KTVT (Dallas/Ft. Worth), KCNC (Denver), WVIT (Hartford, CT), Fox 26 (Houston), KNBC (Los Angeles), Fox47 (Madison, WI), WFOR (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale), WCCO (Minneapolis/St. Paul), WNBC (New York City), WPVI (Philadelphia), KNXV (Phoenix), WGME (Portland, ME), KGW (Portland, OR), WJAR (Providence, RI), WRAL (Raleigh-Durham), WWBT (Richmond, VA), KPIX (San Francisco), Univision (San Francisco), WFLA (Tampa/St. Petersburg), KGUN (Tucson, AZ), WRC (Washington, D.C.), and WPBF (West Palm Beach).

"Who Mentored You?"

To stimulate a national conversation about the importance of mentoring, the Harvard Mentoring Project created a special initiative which encouraged members of the general public to think about individuals in their own lives who offered them guidance, showed them the ropes, and helped them become who they are today. Most were informal mentors (relatives, neighbors, older friends, coaches, clergy, or teachers) who may not have been aware of their lasting influence. The campaign emphasized that, today, too many young people do not get enough of that kind of support. The slogan is "Who mentored you?" and the call to action is two-fold:

Thank them. January is National Mentoring Month. It's a great time to reconnect with people who mentored you. Let them know what a difference they made.

And pass it on! Many kids today are looking for someone to help them achieve their hopes and dreams. Help them get there. Be a mentor.

Television Ads

The campaign's national television ads were produced by HBO (AOL Time Warner) with Tom Fontana (executive producer, Oz) donating his services as director and executive producer. In keeping with the strong desire on the part of many Americans to do something meaningful to help the country, the ads featured young people of different ethnic backgrounds speaking directly to the camera about their hopes and dreams. The ads closed with a tag line encouraging adults to "help them get there" by volunteering as a mentor. The leading broadcast networks ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC each produced their own public service announcements in support of National Mentoring Month, and aired them frequently throughout the month. The spots continued to run throughout the year.

Watch the campaign's national television public service announcements.

Print Ads

The advertising agency Margeotes|Fertitta and Partners collaborated with HBO to create a series of print ads as a companion to the TV spots, with acclaimed photographer Sante D'Orazio donating his services. The print campaign ran as donated full-page ads in The New York Times in collaboration with The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and in leading magazines (including Newsweek, Time, People, The Hollywood Reporter, and Daily Variety), metropolitan newspapers, and outdoor locations across the country.

Government Support

On January 18, 2002, President George W. Bush issued a Proclamation designating January as National Mentoring Month. On January 29, 2002, in his State of the Union Address, President Bush encouraged Americans to volunteer as mentors. On January 23, 2002, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a unanimous Resolution recognizing January as National Mentoring Month.

State officials who actively participated in National Mentoring Month 2002 included: Alaska Governor Tony Knowles, California Governor Gray Davis and First Lady Sharon Davis, Colorado Governor Bill Owens, Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland, Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Georgia Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, Iowa Governor Thomas J. Vilsack, Iowa Lt. Governor Sally Pederson, Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendenning, Nebraska Governor Mike Johanns, New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, New York Governor George Pataki, North Carolina Governor Michael F. Easley, and Wisconsin Governor Scott McCallum.

Federal agencies participating in National Mentoring Month 2002 included the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice (JUMP Grants Program), and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (Media Match Program).

U.S. Postage Stamp

On January 10, 2002, the U.S. Postal Service held "A First Day of Issue" ceremony in Annapolis, Maryland to mark the release of a 34-cent "Mentoring a Child" postage stamp; a total of 125 million stamps were printed. In a press release announcing the new stamp, the U.S. Postal Service stated, "The Harvard Mentoring Project and the National Mentoring Partnership are working together to launch the first annual National Mentoring Month. The Mentoring a Child stamp and National Mentoring Month honor the volunteers and organizations that sponsor or participate in mentoring programs."

The Public's Response

Nationally, approximately 65,000 people responded to the campaign by seeking information from the campaign's web site, Approximately 10,000 people made telephone calls to one of our 40 state and local partners.

The Harvard Mentoring Project

National Mentoring Month is the newest component of an ongoing national media campaign launched by the Harvard Mentoring Project four years ago in collaboration with leading media companies and nonprofit partners. The Harvard Mentoring Project has employed a three-pronged communication strategy consisting of advertising, entertainment programming, and news. The most significant component has been advertising, including PSAs produced by ABC, CBS, Fox, HBO, NBC, The Advertising Council, America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth, and Save the Children. All the PSAs are tagged with a toll-free telephone number, enabling individuals to call for information on mentoring programs that need volunteers in their own communities.

The Harvard Mentoring Project has encouraged Hollywood producers and writers to depict mentoring relationships in prime-time episodes to reinforce the impact of the PSAs. Entertainment not only mirrors social reality, but also helps shape it by depicting what constitutes popular opinion, by influencing people's perceptions of the roles and behaviors that are appropriate to members of a culture, and by modeling specific behaviors. Story lines dealing with mentoring have appeared in Any Day Now (Lifetime), Becker (CBS), Caroline in the City (NBC), Dawson's Creek (WB), ER (NBC), Family Matters (ABC), Friends (NBC), High Incident (ABC), Judging Amy (CBS), Just Shoot Me (NBC), King of Queens (CBS), News Radio (NBC), Now and Again (ABC), Providence (NBC), Sister Sister (WB), Spin City (ABC), Steve Harvey Show (WB), The Corner (HBO miniseries), Veronica's Closet (NBC), West Wing (NBC) and Will and Grace (NBC). A poster developed by the Harvard Mentoring Project has appeared on Drew Carey (ABC), ER (NBC), Friends (NBC), Judging Amy (CBS), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC), Norm (ABC), and West Wing (NBC).

Prior to the launch of National Mentoring Month, the campaign received over $150 million in donated television airtime, and has generated more than 700,000 telephone calls from people seeking information on mentoring programs in their own communities. Findings from an informal survey suggest that approximately 20% of callers have become mentors.


Who Mentored You?TM , Thank Your Mentor DayTM , and Share What You KnowTM are trademarked initiatives of the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health.


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