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

Legislative Advocacy

An Act Relative to Dropout Prevention and Recovery[Original size] Poster – Untitled Design.png

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 (SES) 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

Why are Social Emotional Supports (SES) important in schools? 

 

​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.

 

Budget Advocacy

State Divests in Mentoring Matching Grants for FY18

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. After MMP’s year-long advocacy efforts for an increase, Governor Baker signed the final FY18 budget last month with the Mentoring Matching Grants funded at $475,000, marking a $25,000 decrease from the previous fiscal year. Moreover, the line item leverages private funding through a dollar-for-dollar match requirement, administered by MMP, making the $25,000 cut truly a $50,000 cut. Therefore, to spare the mentoring field a 5% decrease in their FY18 grant awards, MMP made the strategic decision to close the gap through the use of private operational funds. 

What This Means for Youth

While mentoring programs statewide are spared from immediate ramifications of a budget cut, the level-funded line item is not enough. As the funding remains stagnant, programmatic and personnel costs rise at an exponential rate. This means less youth are served and the waiting list for young people seeking mentors increases. Mass Mentoring Partnership believes that every young person has the right to high-quality developmental relationships, and it is the responsibility of stakeholders in communities across the Commonwealth to help meet the needs of youth. In this two-year grant cycle, Mass Mentoring Partnership will continue to build relationships with legislators in the House and the Senate to raise visibility on the importance and the impact of this funding.

Resources:

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

Programs to be Funded Statewide in FY18

African Community Education, Worcester - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central MA, Worcester - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, Greenfield - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lowell (Community Teamwork), Lowell - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County, Springfield - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County (CHD), Amherst - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mass Bay, Boston - Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, Holyoke - Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Boston - Big Friends Little Friends, Fall River - Big Friends Little Friends, Merrimack Valley - Big Sister Association, - Greater Boston - Boston Partners in Education, Boston - Brockton Christian Mentoring Initiative, Brockton - Earthen Vessels, Boston - Falmouth Volunteers in Public Schools, Falmouth - Generations Inc. Boston - Girls Inc., Lynn - Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters, Greater Boston - LUK, Fitchburg and Worcester - Mazie Memorial Foundation Mentoring Program, Waltham - Melrose CARES, Melrose - Old Colony YMCA, Brockton - Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Greater Boston - Railroad Street Youth Project, Great Barrington - RAW Art Works, Lynn - Silver Lining Mentoring, Greater Boston - SMILES, Fall River and New Bedford - Springfield School Volunteers, Springfield Associates for Human Services, Taunton - South Boston Team, South Boston

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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.