Initiative Seeks 2,000 New Mentors for Chicago Youth Over the Next Two Years;
Builds on 800 Mentors Supporting City's Youth Following Last Year's Launch



October 2, 2016

Mayor’s Press Office
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Less than two weeks after outlining his blueprint to improve public safety, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling on Chicagoans to come together and help support the city's youth most in need of support. The Mayor and MENTOR Illinois announced today they are doubling the goal of the Mayor’s Mentoring Challenge (MMC) - calling upon 2,000 additional Chicagoans to volunteer their time, values and skills as a mentor to youth across the city who would benefit from spending time with a positive role model.

“We as a city can only reach our full potential when every child in every neighborhood has an opportunity to reach theirs, and we all have a role to play,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We all have a role to play in the safety of our city and the future of our children, and it’s up to us to ensure that the next generation has the support they need to be successful in school and in life. So today I’m calling for 2,000 new mentors to join us in working to ensure all of our youth have the tools and the support and guidance of adults that are critical to their development and success.”

The expansion follows a series of steps taken to encourage residents to play a role in improving outcomes for youth in communities citywide.

Created last year as a call to action, MMC has enlisted the support of nearly 800 Chicagoans who have signed up to support children’s development, academics, and overall success.  The initiative recognizes the detriment that a lack of adult guidance in young people’s lives poses to their development and success. In fact, research indicates a higher likelihood of young people engaging in crime and risky behavior when they do not have such guidance or support.

“MENTOR Illinois is excited to build on the success we have seen with the Mayor’s Mentoring Challenge and double down on the goal to put more caring adults in the lives of Chicago’s youth,” said Margie Morris, Executive Director to MENTOR Illinois. “With this new goal, we are working to reduce or close waiting lists for youth mentoring programs that are doing great work in Chicago across a variety of ages and program models providing exposure to opportunities and experiences that broaden horizons and aspirations, while building self-esteem, academic persistence, and work-readiness skills.”

A recent survey by MENTOR Illinois found that the lack of volunteer mentors is the number one hurdle to serving more youth, and suggesting that potentially hundreds more of the city’s youth would benefit from a mentor each year if that pool of support existed. To serve more youths, 12 corporate partners have committed to serve as mentors beginning this fall: Accenture, Bank of America, CDW, Comcast, ComEd, Exelon, Get IN Chicago, Jimmy Johns, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Manpower, Northern Trust, and Peoples Gas.

The premise of the program is anchored in existing mentoring programs across Chicago—like those in the network of MENTOR Illinois — which have for years provided youth opportunities in every neighborhood, but that are still seeking additional mentors to reach many more youth in need of these opportunities. The MMC serves as a convener to 26 partnering nonprofits, working to identify and match new mentors with elementary through high school-aged students, volunteering on a weekly or monthly basis.

Each program’s hours vary and mentors are matched 1:1 with mentees of the same gender to ensure the best chances of forging a connection and a meaningful relationship. To date, the program has largely served middle school and high school-aged students across the city, with a nearly even split in serving both boy and girl youths, and also a high need for more male mentors to meet the growing waiting list of boys interested in being paired with a mentor.

Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has made investments in mentoring programs which make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth, including expansions to the evidence-based Becoming a Man (BAM), Match Tutoring and Working on Womanhood (WOW) programs. With participation growing each year, these programs have collectively proven to empower the city’s youth, keep them more connected to their schools, and to support them in academic success, as demonstrated by significant increases graduation rates, freshman-on-track rates, attendance rates, ACT rates and college enrollment rates.

For more information on how to sign up for the Mayor’s Mentoring Challenge, please visit: or



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