January | February 2015

Message From the Administrator

Hello. I’m Bob Listenbee, Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

As many of you know, January is National Mentoring Month—a time for honoring the individuals who help guide our nation’s youth toward happy, successful futures.

Over the years, I have—myself—benefitted from mentors who guided and supported me in ways that have made a profound difference in my life. And, as Administrator of OJJDP, I feel that one of the Office’s most important missions is to support positive youth development by connecting youth to caring adults.

I know from firsthand experience—and the research backs this up—that a relationship with a dedicated mentor can help boost a young person’s self-esteem, improve school performance, and reduce the likelihood that youth will engage in substance abuse or other risky behaviors. Furthermore, mentors can help build resilience in young people who have suffered trauma and other adverse childhood experiences.

Recognizing the life-changing impact mentoring can have on youth, OJJDP is committed to expanding and enhancing these programs nationwide. Just last month, I spoke at the National Mentoring Summit where I announced the launch of OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center. We established the center, along with our partner MENTOR, to help elevate best practices in mentoring and multiply the number of mentors who pave the way for our nation’s youth.

The center provides a range of resources for the youth mentoring field, including an interactive website with a “What Works in Mentoring” section, program and training materials, and access to tailored training and technical assistance for mentoring organizations.

So, visit the center at nationalmentoringresourcecenter.org. Share the site with your colleagues. Use the resources to refine an existing program or start a new one.

We owe it to our youth to narrow, or better yet, eliminate the mentoring gap in this nation. I have seen the voids in the lives of children without mentors. I saw it as a young boy in Michigan where I watched too many peers lose their way. I saw it when I served as the chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia where I met countless children with very adult problems and little to no adult guidance.

But, I’ve also seen the transformative power of mentoring. I have seen troubled boys become men; at-risk girls become empowered women under the guidance of caring adults. Those moments—those triumphs—are the story of mentoring.

Together, we can make that story even richer. Let’s continue to make mentoring a national priority because we know mentoring can—and does—change lives. Thank you.