TULSA, Okla. – Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Victoria Bartlett along with 16 key non-profit organizations, government agencies, as well as K-12 education and higher education groups, led a call to action Oct. 8 to recruit more adults to mentor Tulsa children.
“We have a great need for caring adults to be involved in the lives of all of our youth, from pre-kindergarten through college. The No.1 goal of our Mentoring to the Max initiative is to reach children, especially those who are at-risk, and to have an impact on their lives, on their education and ultimately be a positive influence that will create successful, productive adults,” said Mayor Bartlett.
The purpose of the Mayor’s Mentoring Partners Roundtable is a dedicated effort to bring the partners back and have everyone working together to recruit more adults to the mentoring pipeline. The Mayor’s Mentoring to the Max Partners will continue meeting on a monthly basis and develop action steps to coordinate efforts, broaden their range of influence and lead to a higher level of success.
Nationally, just 8 percent of youth age 6 to 17 have a formal mentor, but “more than 40 percent of young people ages 8 – 21 say they want more adults in their lives they can turn to for help.”
Tulsa County’s high school dropout rate in 2008 was 17.5 percent (25.1 percent in Tulsa Public Schools, 19.4 percent in Union, 17 percent in Owasso, and 17.2 percent in Broken Arrow. In Tulsa County, our youth are having difficulty fulfilling the fundamental standards for success, which is to 1) complete high school, 2) work full time, and 3) wait until age 21 to marry before having children.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Tulsa County’s student poverty rate in the 2009 – 2010 school year was 54.14 percent, up nearly 4 points from the previous year, and the student poverty rate in Tulsa Public Schools, specifically, was 83.10 percent, up more than 6 points.
Victoria Bartlett, Mentoring to the Max spokesperson, says the primary concern is at-risk students who need every opportunity that’s available. “I’ve been impressed with the efforts of all of the mentoring partners. We are all working toward the same goal – to find mentors for every child who wants one. I spend quite a bit of time in schools with children, and they are hungry for more one-on-one time with an adult who can give them attention, see their potential and help them develop it. It’s very important for every community to have these intergenerational connections,” she said.
The Mayor’s Mentoring Partnership has set goals to: 1. Recruit, train, place, and retain more adults to serve as caring adults in the lives of children, thereby increasing the number of children and youth who are able to be served. 2. Provide a forum for nonprofits, schools, faith-based organizations, and other agencies to meet and share best practices on mentoring program management. 3. Secure additional funding and in-kind donations from local, state, and national sources for Tulsa County mentoring programs. 4. Build public awareness and understanding of the need, goals, and benefits of mentoring among diverse populations.
Key partners and supporters of the Mayor’s Mentoring to the Max Partners include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma; Camp Fire ; City of Tulsa/Tulsa Police Department; Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa and Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative; Going to Bat for Tulsa Kids; Junior Achievement; Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence; Partners in Education; Tulsa Community College’s Signature Symphony; Tulsa Public Schools and Union Public Schools, , Youth Services of Tulsa and .