Thursday, September 16, 2010

Commentary: For a Real Return on Investment, Mentoring Works

When you were a kid, who was that really cool adult whom you knew believed in you? Who took the time to ask about your favorite movie star or took you out to shoot some hoops? Who could you talk to about a tough teacher at school or a friend who was giving you a hard time? Who was the adult who helped guide you and shape the person you are today?

For some of us, that person was a parent or relative. For others, it was a coach, a teacher, or maybe even a first-time job supervisor who took the time to care, ask questions, and listen. Unfortunately, for many of today's youth, no one fills that bill.

Each of us was fortunate. We had adults who invested in us, cared about our futures, and challenged us to realize our full potential. We each had a least one mentor who believed in us and challenged us to believe in ourselves. Our mentors helped shape our lives and played key roles in helping us to become the individuals we are today. We will each surely remember our mentors for a lifetime.

While a caring adult is not a panacea for all the challenges a youth faces today, it sure can make a difference. Our region's low educational attainment rates, high youth at-risk population, and significant juvenile crime issues have many causes that often require complex and costly intervention strategies to address. And yet, there is a simple, no-cost strategy that research has demonstrated can help turn around a kid who is making poor choices and help that child become a more productive citizen. Mentors make a difference.

One of the amazing things about being a strong mentor is that it doesn't take a trained counselor or educator to do the job. It takes a caring adult willing to make a commitment to stick with a child for at least one year and help that young person to grow strong. The research is compelling in this area. Kids who have had mentors are more likely to stay in school, stay out of trouble, develop successful career paths, and be more engaged community members. As community leaders, we believe the return on investment of mentoring is just too good to pass up.

Fortunately, becoming a mentor in our region is simple. Mentor Kenosha & Racine, a collaborative effort involving business, government, education, and nonprofit organizations; was created to help caring adults become mentors. Working in partnership with established mentoring programs at organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, John XXIII in Racine, and various other community groups, Mentor Kenosha & Racine is recruiting and training mentors for our kids. This effort is bolstered by a half-million dollar grant garnered by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

We urge you to take one hour out of your week and head to a nearby school, community program, or faith-based organization and help nurture a child's future. If we truly want to live in a community that cares about youth and produces educated citizens who can comprise a highly qualified workforce, we need to take action today. Investing in mentoring earns dividends that have value for every business leader's bottom line, every educator's grade sheet, and every community leader's list of active citizens.

School is starting.
Mentoring works.

Become a mentor today at or call 262-595-2652 for more information.


William McReynolds, Racine County Executive

John Dickert, Racine Mayor

James Shaw, Racine Unified School District Superintendent

David Moyer, Burlington Area School District Superintendent

Michael Kobylka, RAMAC President & CEO

Deborah Ford, UW-Parkside Chancellor

F. Gregory Campbell, Carthage College President

Bryan Albrecht, Gateway Technical College President

Jim Kreuser, Kenosha County Executive

Keith Bosman, Kenosha Mayor

Michele Hancock, Kenosha Unified School District Superintendent

Todd Battle, Kenosha Area Business Alliance President


  1. "And yet, there is a simple, no-cost strategy that research has demonstrated can help turn around a kid who is making poor choices and help that child become a more productive citizen."

    That "strategy" is called parents, and it has worked for millennia. Why do we now have to raise other peoples' children for them? Why do we pay people to have children that they won't raise?

  2. Orbs - unfortunately there are no answers to those questions. It is what it is - these parents do not know how to parent, many of the parents are babies. Unless we introduce sterilization, this may be the next best alternative.

  3. Blaming parents is the kneejerk response from proffesional educators, paid big bucks, who fail, year after year, with students and parents who change every year.

  4. These school and college administrators are very out of touch with what Racine needs. I take offense to their co-authoring an article on how the community should do for free what they are failing to do with our tax dollars. All of these administrators are seriously overpaid and they have the gall to put the onus on everyone else!