MENTOR launches North Carolina affiliate to expand youth mentoring and drive equity through relationships

Research and experience show the power of mentoring to build bridges, break down “otherness” and create lasting, meaningful relationships. Yet one in three young people grow up without a mentor outside their family to help them develop, access opportunities, and thrive. People and organizations across North Carolina will now have a key resource to help close that mentoring gap with the launch of MENTOR North Carolina.

An Affiliate of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR), MENTOR North Carolina joins more than two dozen MENTOR Affiliates across the country with its official launch on April 10 at an event hosted by the North Carolina Executive Residence.  MENTOR North Carolina aims to increase the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships, support existing mentoring programs and new initiatives to improve quality, effectiveness and scale, as well as bring together stakeholders to expand local engagement, supportive policies, and investment in youth mentoring.

Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with

the tools to make responsible choices, stay in school, and engage in their communities. A study proved that, with a mentor, youth are:

  • 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
  • 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities

MENTOR North Carolina will be a unifying hub for those programs and all those who want to advance mentoring for the state’s young people to provide trainings, best practices, and professional development. It will also be a central force for campaigns to elevate mentoring and recruit volunteers. MENTOR North Carolina will operate with equity as a driving force. MENTOR North Carolina will support organizations and agencies that offer or seek to offer mentoring support and enrichment opportunities to youth—in particular youth of color—with the express purpose of exploring the foundations of institutionalized racism, how it manifests in mentoring relationships, and how mentoring might be leveraged to advocate for social change.

Movement of Youth (MOY) will serve as the initial host organization for MENTOR North Carolina, and its founder Atrayus Goode will lead MENTOR North Carolina as the organization’s inaugural President & CEO. Goode is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Leadership Award and the North Carolina Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service, the state’s highest award for volunteer service. He has also been featured on various media platforms, including TED. MOY is a youth-centered mentoring organization that has empowered diverse students that want to achieve and advance towards a successful life since its inception in 2006.

“It is not enough to tell young people that anyone who studies and works hard will get ahead when we know that barriers based on race create different outcomes for black and brown youth,” said Atrayus Goode, inaugural President & CEO of MENTOR North Carolina. “We look forward to not only increasing the capacity of mentoring agencies, but also activating them in ways that begin to address the deeper systemic issues that create the need for mentoring in the first place.”

“We are so appreciative for the extraordinary local partnership from across sectors and organizations in North Carolina to put relationships for young people first,” said David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. “With proven local leadership before it and in it, MENTOR’s support, the expertise of our existing network, and our growing national partnerships, we are thrilled to launch MENTOR North Carolina with the foundation and momentum to make lasting impact for North Carolina’s young people and communities.”

Several elected officials from across the state were present. Representative Graig Meyer had much to say about the importance of mentoring: “We must protect those who are marginalized, vulnerable, and oppressed. Mentoring gives an opportunity to help level the playing field and prepare young people to address some of North Carolina’s most pressing issues.”

Representatives from various mentoring agencies across the state were present, including members of the 100 Black Men of America Triangle East Chapter, Thomas Mentor Leadership Academy, and the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate (BRMA) Program.

Youth voices spoke to the power of mentoring and relationships. “I was exposed to a number of opportunities that have made me a better person,” said Kennedy Ruff, a Guilford College first-year student who served as the MC for the event. Rosa Aguilar-Perez delivered a tearful testimony. “My mentor believed in me when I did not even believe in myself,” she said of her participation with BRMA. “I am proud to say that I will be the first in my family to go to college.”