Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Mentoring To Succeed Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today introduced the Mentoring to Succeed Act, legislation that builds on their efforts to reduce gun violence in Chicago and across the nation.  Specifically, the Mentoring to Succeed Act helps address the crisis facing at-risk students by:

  • Creating a grant program to help school districts, schools, and local governments establish, expand, or support school-based mentoring programs to help at-risk students succeed;
  • Providing funding to train mentors in trauma-informed practices and interventions to increase student resilience and reduce juvenile justice involvement;
  • Supporting partnerships with local businesses and private companies to help at-risk students with hands-on career training and career exploration;
  • Giving preference to applicants that develop a plan to prepare at-risk students for college and the workforce;
  • Supporting partnerships with nonprofit, community-based, and faith-based organizations to serve more at-risk students; and
  • Fostering interagency coordination on best practices and technical assistance related to mentoring.

“In neighborhoods across Chicago and around the country, we see how barriers like childhood poverty, inadequate schools, chronic absenteeism, and community violence can lead to poor academic achievement and limited economic and employment opportunities.  Young boys and girls, especially boys and girls of color, who grow up facing these challenges without a strong support system often struggle to transition to high school, college, and the workforce.  But research has shown that school-based mentoring programs can be an effective strategy to help at-risk students thrive in their schools, careers, and life,” said Durbin.  “The federal government has a duty to strengthen investments in school-based mentoring programs to ensure our most vulnerable children have the opportunity to succeed and achieve their full potential, and that is why I’m so proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Duckworth.”

“Too many young people, particularly young people of color, don't have access to the academic or economic opportunities that everyone deserves. At the same time, too many young people struggle with violence in their communities and other obstacles that stifle their dreams and their ambitions. Our nation’s children deserve a chance to reach their full potential, and school-based mentoring programs have been proven to help students do just that,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Durbin in introducing this legislation to help ensure every child gets the attention, guidance and resources they need to succeed in school, in the workforce and in life.” 

“The City of Chicago is on the path to providing universal mentoring for our most at-risk youth.  The Mentoring to Succeed Act of 2017 is an innovative, impactful, and timely plan to expand proven mentoring programs for young men and women across the country,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  The City of Chicago has endorsed this legislation.  “We know from research and our own experience in Chicago that mentors provide young people with the support they need to make positive choices, succeed in school, and reach their potential. The Mentoring to Succeed Act will help more young Americans access the resources they need to be successful and achieve their dreams.”  

This legislation builds off of other bills recently introduced by Sens. Durbin and Duckworth to address the crisis facing at-risk youth.  In March, Durbin introduced the Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act, which is designed to address the toxic stress and trauma that impacts many children from our most violent neighborhoods. And in April, Durbin and Duckworth introduced the Helping to Encourage Real Opportunity (HERO) for At-Risk Youth Act, which would provide tax incentives to businesses and employers to hire and retain youth from economically distressed areas and the Creating Pathways for Youth Employment Act, which would increase federal resources for communities seeking to create or grow employment programs. 

According to a 2014 study, there are an estimated 16 million young people, including 9 million at-risk youth, who will reach 19 years old without ever having a mentor.  As a result, these youth will miss out on the powerful effects of mentoring that are linked to significant outcomes, including:

  • 52 percent less likely to skip a day of school,
  • 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college,
  • 81 percent more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities,
  • 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities, and
  • 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found that Youth Guidance’s school-based mentoring program, Becoming a Man, reduced arrests for violent crime, improved school engagement, and increased high school graduation rates.

In Illinois, an estimated 55,000 youth are formally matched with a mentor, with 68 percent residing in Metro Chicago.  Last year, it cost the State of Illinois an average of $172,000 to incarcerate one youth, compared to an average of $6,000 for one youth in an intensive youth development program, and only $2,300 per youth in a formal mentoring program.  In 2012, the University of Chicago Crime Lab found that benefits to society compared to mentoring program costs in Illinois measured as high as $31 dollars for every $1 dollar invested.

The Mentoring to Succeed Act is endorsed by The City of Chicago, Youth Guidance, Chicago Urban League, Instituto Del Program Latino, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, MENTOR Illinois, The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, National CARES Mentoring Movement, National Disability Mentoring Coalition, After-School All-Stars, Girls Inc., Spark, Sisters Circle, Union League Boys & Girls Clubs, College Mentors for Kids, Inc., and Innovate Springfield.