Advocacy

Advocacy.jpgMentoring and youth development programs’ voices are vital in helping Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP)  raise awareness about the role that empowering youth-adult relationships play in addressing systemic social problems and garner support at the local, state and federal levels of government. By familiarizing yourself with the steps of the state budget process, learning about policies and initiatives related to mentoring, and building relationships with your community’s legislators and other public officials, you can play a critical role in ensuring that the needs of the field are heard – and met. 

 

 

State

Budget Advocacy

Conferees Divest in Mentoring Amid Budget Cuts

The Mentoring Matching Grants line item (7061-9634) is a statewide, competitive grant program designed to create and support mentoring matches, and the only state funding dedicated to mentoring. Created in 1999, the line item leverages private funding through a dollar-for-dollar match requirement and is administered by Mass Mentoring Partnership. Over the last 17 years, this investment has supported over 10,000 mentor matches and achieved many positive outcomes for youth, such as improved attitude towards school and classroom behavior, increases in self confidence, self efficacy and positive attitude about the future. The Mentoring Matching Grants is currently funded at $500,000 for FY17 and supports 32 mentoring programs throughout the Commonwealth in their work to collectively match and support over youth with caring adult mentors.

On July 7th, the six-member House and Senate conference committee released their compromise budget for FY18, which decreased the Mentoring Matching Grants line item (7061-9634) by $25,000 to $475,000. After tirelessly advocating for months and after seeing funding at $500,000 in the House and $600,000 in the Senate, we are extremely disappointed with the cut in this process. With the news of a shortfall in the state's projected revenue, $400 million in cuts to line items from earlier budget proposals were necessary to ensure a balanced budget, and there were cuts to many critical programs across the state, which is unfortunate.

What This Means for Youth

Mentoring programs statewide will immediately feel the impact of these cuts, directly affecting young people in need of positive developmental relationships. There are already thousands of youth from Boston to Pittsfield who are on waitlists for mentoring programs who may not be matched with a mentor due to the restrictions on budget and because of rising programmatic and personnel costs. We need to ensure that Governor Baker does not cut the Mentoring Matching Grants line item further. Governor Baker will now review the budget and has the authority to veto or reduce any of the line items in the current budget.

What You Can Do

Please contact the Office of Administration and Finance (617-727-2040), and Governor Baker's office (617-725-4000) to request he maintain the level of funding for the Mentoring Matching Grants in the final budget at $475,000 to ensure that further cuts will not impact the mentoring field.

Team MMP is also working with our champions in the House and Senate to make sure they know these cuts will mean that less people in their districts will be served. Thank you for your advocacy throughout this long and complicated budget season. We are confident that the Mentoring Matching Grants was spared from a more drastic cut due to your diligent outreach. Questions? Please contact Chelsea Aquino, Manager of Government Relations, at caquino@massmentors.org or 617-695-2476.

Resources:

For more information or questions, please contact Chelsea Aquino, Manager of Government Relations and Public Policy, at caquino@massmentors.org

Programs Funded Statewide in FY17

Action Centered Tutoring Services (Springfield) - African Community Education (Worcester) - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA/Metrowest - Big Brothers Big Sisters Franklin County - Big Brothers Big Sisters Greater Lowell - Big Brothers Big Sisters Hampden County - Big Brothers Big Sisters Hampshire County - Big Brothers Big Sisters Mass Bay (Cape Cod) - Big Friends Little Friends (Fall River) - Big Friends Litter Friends (Lawrence) - Big Sister Association of Greater Boston - Boston Partners in Education - Brockton Christian Mentoring Initiative - Child Care of the Berkshires - Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (Boston) - Earthen Vessels (Boston) - Falmouth Volunteers in Public Schools - Generations Inc. (Boston) - Girls Inc of Lynn - LUK (Fitchburg/Worcester) - Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters (Greater Boston) - Melrose Alliance Against Violence - Mazie Memorial Foundation Mentoring Program (Waltham/Framingham) - Old Colony YMCA (Brockton) - Partners for Youth with Disabilities (Greater Boston) - Quincy Asian Resources - Railroad Street Youth Project (Great Barrington) - Raw Art Works (Lynn) - Silver Lining Mentoring (Greater Boston) - SMILES (Fall River/New Bedford) - Springfield School Volunteers - Taunton Area School to Career - South Boston TEAM

 

 

Legislative Advocacy

An Act Relative to Dropout Prevention and Recovery

Nearly 1 out of 8 students in Massachusetts will not graduate on time.

At MMP, we are working to elevate policy around the evidenced need for greater social-emotional support in schools as a remedy to high dropout rates. We see graduation coaches as the solution to this prevalent issue, as a constant presence within the school building that can mentor at-risk youth and provide wraparound supports. During the course of the last year, MMP has collected peer to peer data from high school students in the Boston Public School System to support this advocacy effort and public awareness campaign in two ways: through a survey and holding focus groups.

We understand the significant positive impacts of mentoring on two early indicators of high school drop-out, these being high levels of absenteeism and recurring behavior problems in school. Graduation coaches add an additional layer of social and emotional support that is integral to the wellbeing of students across our state. For example, in the U.S. only 56 percent of students who have dropped out report that there was a school staff person they could go to about school problems. Youth in developmental relationships are less likely to skip school, present better attitudes and behaviors at school, and are more likely to attend college than their peers.

Learn More: 

Join the conversation using #StudentsNeedSES

​Allocating Recreational Marijuana Revenue to Youth Development

Mentoring agencies and youth development organizations across Massachusetts are improving the lives of vulnerable youth by providing access to empowering youth-adult relationships and the kind of wrap-around supports youth need to stay in school, make responsible choices around risk-taking behavior, and to succeed in all facets of their lives. Research has proven that at-risk youth who are matched with a mentor for more than a year are less likely to become involved in substance and alcohol abuse, less likely to be truant, less likely to commit violent acts, and are more likely to show improved academic performance and improved attitudes toward school.

Mass Mentoring Partnership fights to maintain the funding that enables mentoring programs to succeed, build capacity, and serve more youth. As a result of revenue shortfalls and an unstable national economy over the years, the Mentoring Matching Grants line item has been cut in half from when it was established in 2000, while the need for mentoring relationships has grown, substantially, particularly in cities and in low-income communities of color. MMP is also working to embed developmental relationships in schools as a means to address dropout prevention and recovery. Currently, there are very few systemic approaches to dropout prevention that has been approved by the legislature, likely stemming from the lack of funding tied to dropout bills in both the Massachusetts House and Senate.

For this reason, we have petitioned the members of the Committee on Marijuana Policy to dedicate a portion of the tax collected from recreational marijuana sales to help build the capacity of mentoring programs statewide. With the state’s budget seeing a massive revenue shortfall in both FY18 and FY17, the Mentoring Matching Grant, which is the only dedicated state funding to mentoring, has failed to see an increase in three years, and was cut in half from when it was established in 2000 at $1,000,000. This stagnant growth has proved challenging in providing the resources necessary to support all of the programs who serve the critical needs of youth across our state. An alternative revenue stream dedicated specifically to supporting developmental relationships for our young people and mentoring would have a lasting and positive impact on our Commonwealth!

To learn more about this issue and how other states allocate portions of their revenue to youth, check out this blog post

For any additional questions, contact MMP’s Manager of Government Relations and Public Policy, Chelsea Aquino, at caquino@massmentors.org.

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National

Massachusetts Mentoring Agenda

In an effort to both educate the Massachusetts congressional delegation on the national priorities of the youth mentoring field in Massachusetts and rally their support, Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) drafted the Massachusetts Mentoring Agenda. The Massachusetts Mentoring Agenda, which was adapted from the national legislative priorities established by MENTOR, urges each member of the delegation to:

  • Advocate for policies and funding approaches that expand quality mentoring in Massachusetts
  • Support funding for juvenile mentoring grants in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the $100 million level
  • Co-sponsor the Child Protection Improvements Act
  • Support the inclusion of mentoring in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
  • Become a champion for youth mentoring by joining the House Mentoring Caucus, and supporting commemorations of National Mentoring Month each January

Child Protection Improvements Act

The Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) has passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee and now faces the Senate Floor action. Visit the MENTOR website for more information.