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Program recruits mentors for positive intervention in teens’ lives

Spokane’s Mentoring Children of Promise (MCP) program connects more than 40 at-risk children and youth with a mentor.  It has a waiting list of 25, mostly boys.

The program of Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest aims to have 75 matches by September and 60 more matches in 2012 and in 2013.

January is the 10th anniversary of National Mentoring Month
.  Nationally, MCP provides mentors for more than 7 million children and youth.

Robert Shaw
Robert Shaw, Mentoring Children of Promise
Recruitment Specialist

“Since 2002, U.S. youth mentoring programs have received presidential support and federal funding to continue work with children who have a parent in a federal or state prison,” said Robert Shaw, recruitment specialist.

“These youth are at-risk because without proper intervention 70 percent of them will end up in prison themselves, he said. “These odds are reduced when a child has a volunteer mentor who consistently spends two hours a week with them over a year.”

Robert, who works for Goodwill and is also a volunteer, has seen positive changes in 14-year-old Jake, whom he mentors.

“Jake has improved his grades since we have been hanging out, but we haven’t spent any time together doing homework,” said Robert, a graduate of Central Valley High School, who after serving in the Navy earned a bachelor’s degree in math at Eastern Washington University.

He came on when Goodwill hired several youth mentors, and he was asked to stay.

“He plays football, and I told him about how I was suspended from my high school football team for several games because I had bad grades,” Robert said.

Jake’s mother, Tracy, has also noticed positive changes in Jake’s behavior.  She recently told MCP staff, that he “is more respectful to adults now and is in trouble less at school since having a mentor.”

MCP began in 2000 in Philadelphia as Amachi—People of Faith Mentoring Children of Promise.  While MCP started off as a small, faith-based program, it has spread to more than 200 U.S. cities. Various nonprofit organizations run each program.

Joy Jones, program manager for MCP Spokane in the Emmanuel Family Life Center at 631 S. Richard Allen Ct., said the goals are to build friendships and have fun.

“Positive relationships are the best intervention for youth,” she said.

In Spokane County, more than 4,000 children and youth have a parent incarcerated.  In September 2010, Goodwill gained a three-year extension to operate MCP, which started in 2003.

Spokane Public Schools counselors, who see children and youth on a daily basis, recommend them for the program, said Robert.

MCP recruits volunteer mentors from churches, businesses and other sources.  MCP makes presentations to local churches and Bible study groups.  They recruit students at Gonzaga and Whitworth universities.  They also advertise on Craigslist for volunteers.

For information, call 703-6839 or email


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