Mayor’s Newly Formed Tulsa County Mentoring Coalition
TULSA, Okla. – When Mayor Dewey Bartlett took office in December 2009, he and his wife, Victoria Bartlett made a commitment to support and promote mentoring. Last fall, the Bartletts met with the Mentoring to the Max Partners and challenged the group to take its mentoring efforts to a higher level in order to meet the varying needs of children and youth throughout the Tulsa area.
As a result, the Tulsa County Mentoring Coalition, made up of 16 key nonprofit organizations, government agencies, as well as K-12 education and higher education groups was formed. Going forward, this collaborative effort, led by the Mayor’s Mentoring to the Max program, will be focused on increasing both the supply of mentors and the breadth of youth served.
Mayor Bartlett said, “We are taking our program to a new level in our community and will be working toward serving the many needs of our children and youth, especially those at-risk. Our newly formed Tulsa County Mentoring Coalition will help us move forward as we utilize the unique expertise, skills and passion of mentoring organizations across the county in order to help our children and youth receive the attention and support from a caring adult in their lives.”
According to Jan Creveling, Community Service Council Senior Planner and Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative Director, this collaborative effort would not have been possible without a series of events, beginning with the 2006 “Building a Safer Tulsa” Summit.
Creveling said, “Results from the Summit revealed a tremendous need for mentors in schools and communities. Again and again, organizations ranging from faith-based to law enforcement stated the need for placing a caring adult in the life of a child and emphasized the importance of the impact from a solid, healthy mentoring relationship.”
“The Mayor’s Mentoring to the Max initiative, funded by Bank of America, kicked off in January 2007. To date it has placed mentors in 18 Union and Tulsa Public elementary schools that are a part of the Tulsa Area Community Schools Initiative (TACSI). Since that time, community leaders from over 16 local agencies have continued to work together through the Mayor’s Office and TACSI to develop the new Tulsa County Mentoring Coalition.”
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.”
In 2008, Tulsa County’s high school dropout rate 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, said, “My own mentoring experiences with children has opened my eyes to how much they yearn for more one-on-one time with an adult who can be their friend, see their potential and help them fully develop it. It’s so important for every community to have intergenerational connections that will be beneficial to Tulsa’s future,” she said.
The proposed goals of the Tulsa County Mentoring Coalition are as follows…
1. Recruit, place, train, follow-up with, 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.
Provide standardized evaluation of outputs and outcomes.
Provide an opportunity for nonprofits, schools, faith-based organizations, and other agencies to meet and share best practices on mentoring program management.
Seek and secure additional funding and in-kind donations from local, state, and national sources for Tulsa County Mentoring programs.
Build public awareness and understanding of the need, goals, and benefits of mentoring among diverse populations.
Key partners and supporters of the Tulsa County Mentoring Coalition include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma; Camp Fire USA; 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, YMCA, Youth Services of Tulsa and YWCA.
January is National Mentoring Month and cities all across the nation are focusing on the need for more mentors in schools. Tulsa County citizens who want to be a part of sharing their gifts and passion to enhance a child’s life and education can call 2-1-1. For additional information on the Mayor’s Mentoring to the Max initiative, visit: www.mentoringtulsa.org