Federal Funding for Youth Mentoring Programs

As the federal government begins its negotiations over next fiscal year's budget, those of us in the mentoring field are holding our collective breath. We've seen federal initiatives come and go (remember the Department of Education's school-based mentoring grants and Mentoring Children of Prisoners grants from the Department of Health and Human Services?), so we're hoping for some good news, meaning stable or an increase from last year's devastating funding. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely.

For FY13, President Obama requested $58 million for youth mentoring grants from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and did not request any funding for the Mentoring Children of Prisoners (MCP) program from the Department of Health and Human Services. Last year, he requested $78 million for the youth mentoring grants from OJJDP and $25 million for MCP. The entire Department of Justice budget is only slightly less than last year and it's likely that most programs will receive some cuts.

However, there is $20 million for a new "evidence-based" program demonstration project, the OJJDP FY 2012 Mentoring Best Practices Research Grant, which consists of approximately six mentoring research grants this year. Grants are for one to five years, with an award ceiling of $500,000 for the entire length of the award.

And for those of you who rely on AmeriCorps members, President Obama proposes $760.5 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service. This includes more or less level funding for AmeriCorps grants ($345 million), the trust that pays out AmeriCorps education stipends ($208.7 million), and the National Civilian Community Corps ($30.1 million).

Though this is a proposed budget, those who work closely with OJJDP say that it's likely there will be juvenile mentoring grants through some of the Second Chance Act funding ($80 million which funds adult and youth mentoring programs for prisoners returning to communities). But, as Janet Forbush from The Center for the Advancement of Mentoring says, "Something to be brought front and center is that this is a proposed budget and we are in a volatile and extremely contentious election year. That said, it is very important that our voices, whether individually or collectively, are turned into a resonant chorus for our legislators on the Hill about the need for continued funding for mentoring to support our most vulnerable and high need youth. We are an informed and experienced constituency that hasn't offered our collective voice to the discussions."

More on this conversation on EducationNorthwest's Mentoring Forums and Youth Today. Please consider getting involved and contacting your representatives to voice your opinion on the importance of funding for all kinds of youth mentoring programs and, in the meantime, just breathe.


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