Legacy Mayors for Mentoring

Leaders Making a Positive Difference

From their unique position as community leaders, mayors can make a powerful impact in their cities. MENTOR and our Network of Affiliates want to showcase these elected leaders across the country who are elevating mentoring in their communities.

Mayors are scaling quality mentoring initiatives, mobilizing their communities, and better equipping young people to succeed through improved school attendance and achievement, high school graduation, workforce readiness and connection to their cities.

See below for a list of legacy Mayors for Mentoring.

Legacy Initiatives

Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor William Bell

Mayor William Bell believed in the power of mentoring and its ability to generate new leaders for communities. Mayor Bell responded to the call to action of My Brother’s Keeper with support from the Bloomberg Foundation and the Birmingham Business Alliance and created a mentoring program for Birmingham’s young people. Recognizing the important legacy of the city and the power of mentoring to continue this legacy, Mayor Bell stated, “Birmingham has a unique place in the legacy of the Civil Rights movement. The Birmingham My Brother’s Keeper goal is to lead the nation in a new generation movement through the support of emerging leaders, a commitment to collective action and concrete accountability for results.”

Jacksonville, Florida, Mayor Alvin Brown

Former Mayor of Jacksonville Alvin Brown viewed mentoring as a strategic necessity to promote higher levels of quality in the public school system. He worked tirelessly with nonprofit and faith-based organizations to generate fresh interest in mentoring while recruiting more than 600 volunteers to serve his “Mayor’s Mentors” program. These efforts won honors as the best mentoring program in the city, as selected by “Hands on Jax,” a local non-profit that encourages volunteerism.

Tallahassee, Florida, Mayor Andrew D. Gillum

Mayor Andrew D. Gillum has always shown a great deal of passion when it comes to investing in the future of Tallahassee’s young people.  In 2010, Mayor Gillum supported efforts to convert a former neighborhood recreational center into the Palmer-Monroe Teen Center to help meet the emotional, physical, artistic and educational needs of area teens and deter young people away from the Court system and toward productive and constructive activity.  Recently, Mayor Gillum called to recruit a cadre of 1,000 men and women who are willing to serve the local community by volunteering at least one hour of their time, at least once a week, to meet with a mentee.  “We cannot sacrifice our young people to a generation of hopelessness, and mentors can play a special role in helping to motivate and inspire others,” Gillum said.

Chicago, Illinois, Mayor Rahm Emanuel

During his time in office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel challenged the Chicago business community to raise $50 million over five years for early intervention programs for younger youth, as well as jobs, mentoring, recreation and conflict-resolution programs for teens to counter the city’s gang violence. Allstate Insurance CEO Tom Wilson, whose company has agreed to contribute the first $5 million, co-chaired the campaign with Loop Capital Markets CEO Jim Reynolds. Emanuel noted, “There’s the response part: policing. There’s a gun-control aspect. And there’s also a prevention piece. For everything else to work, you have to have this prevention scaled up. This is not just about getting money out. It’s about getting the right results: kids back in school or learning a skill set so they can have a productive life.”

Mayor Emanuel's Office's Full Press Release

Gary, Indiana, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson

Under Mayor Freeman-Wilson, the city of Gary launched the Mentoring Trust in partnership with NIPSCO, the regional utility company. NIPSCO provides eligible employees with paid time off to mentor. NIPSCO Manager of Corporate Citizenship and Employee Involvement and Gary native Eddie Melton stated, “Mentoring is going to be a key component for the turnaround, the renewal, the revival of the city.” Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson agrees that “mentoring is a key piece in the rebuilding of our community.”

MENTOR Indiana Press Release on Mayor Freeman-Wilson

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a leader in expanding mentoring opportunities to support young people in South Bend. Recognizing the influential work of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County as well as other community organizations, Mayor Buttigieg launched a booster club to support mentoring opportunities. Since the creation of the club, the number of mentors in South Bend has doubled. Mayor Buttigieg said about the impact of mentoring relationships, “Mentoring programs have consistently demonstrated positive outcomes for students involved, and those who have served are amazed what the relationship has done for them as well.”

More Information on Mayor Buttigieg

Indianapolis, Indiana, Mayor Greg Ballard

Former Mayor of Indianapolis Greg Ballard used his public platform to promote community-wide involvement in mentoring as part of a multi-prong strategy to address one of the highest homicide rates in Indianapolis in a decade. To combat this startling increase in violence, Mayor Ballard explored the possibility of hiring more police officers and launching a youth summer employment program, in addition to working with community organizations to provide positive adult mentors for at-risk youth. “People often approach me to ask how they can help the city, and I always suggest that they mentor a child,” Ballard said. “One of the greatest things an adult can do to improve education, reduce crime and contribute to building a better city is help a young person in need and show them you care.

Lebanon, Indiana, Mayor Huck Lewis

Former Mayor of Lebanon Huck Lewis promoted mentoring in Lebanon in an effort to increase academic achievement and reduce poverty in the community. The mayor’s office collaborated with a local utility company, Witham Hospital, the local United Way and community foundation, faith-based organizations, several businesses, and the Boys and Girls Club. The partners implemented a plan to provide mentors to low-income youth, giving them extra support and connecting them to opportunity. Mayor Lewis said that mentoring strengthens his city’s economic development. “We’re developing the next leadership in the community, and we need a trainable workforce that will match up with any community in Indiana,” Lewis stated.

Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray

Mayor Jim Gray understands the importance of caring adults showing up for young people. In 2017, he developed the City Mentors program, which offers city employees two hours of paid leave a week to mentor youth. Mayor Gray’s administration actively recruits employees to join City Mentors and holds trainings for businesses that are interested in encouraging their employees to become mentors. The city has also helped cultivate a partnership between the Lexington Police Department and Fayette County Public Schools in order to best reach the young people of Lexington. In his 2017 State of the City Address Mayor Gray said, “You don’t need to be perfect. You just have to be there for a young person. The time investment is modest. The emotional and community benefits are enormous.”

New Orleans, Louisiana, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu

Former Mayor of New Orleans Mitchell Landrieu’s NOLA FOR LIFE, a comprehensive strategy to tackle the city’s high murder rate,  announced that 23 local nonprofit organizations were awarded a total of $500,000 to deliver high-quality programs and social services to young men who are most at risk of killing or being killed. Youth mentoring is one of the interventions used in several of the grantee programs. “When we created the NOLA FOR LIFE plan, we knew that we had to take a holistic approach to stemming the violence that rips at the heart and soul of our city,” Landrieu said. “To help these young men have a future, and to end the cycle of violence and death on our streets, we must have all hands on deck and we must join forces and provide the financial, human and institutional resources to work with (them).” Chevron was the first major donor to the NOLA FOR LIFE Fund, giving $1 million; the City of New Orleans contributed $250,000.

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Baltimore, Maryland, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Former Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was committed to providing high-quality education and opportunities for mentoring to all of Baltimore’s youth. In 2010, she rolled out a targeted effort to match mentors with 235 children from neighborhoods with historically high rates of violence through a public/private partnership that included Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Maryland and Comcast. In her 2015 State of the City Address, Mayor Rawlings-Blake issued a Call to Action where she asked men to commit to making a difference in the lives of Baltimore’s children, to serve as mentors, volunteers, tutors, job training coaches, and more. This call to action provides resources for men interested in serving as mentors, as well as youth interested in becoming mentees. As part of that Call to Action, Mayor Rawlings-Blake hosted “Women Leading Baltimore,” which paired 25 high school girls with women in leadership positions for a day of training. Mayor Rawlings-Blake said about the power of mentoring, “We should all remember as mentors that we can speak light and courage and hope and dreams into our young women, even when we don’t think they’re paying attention.”

Brockton, Massachusetts, Mayor Linda Balzotti

Former Mayor of Brockton Linda M. Balzotti served as mayor for four years as the city’s first female mayor until 2013. In 2012, the Mass Mentoring Partnership launched their own regional Mayors for Mentoring campaign with former mayor Balzotti as one of the first to participate. Throughout her tenure in office, she helped promote mentoring in the local community each January during National Mentoring Month. She attended Brockton’s 5th Annual Mentor Recruitment Rally and hosted a cable show, “Our City,” with representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters as guests to promote the event. “Mentors have the unique opportunity to shape the futures of young men and women in communities across the Commonwealth,” Mayor Balzotti said. “They play a vital part in awakening the spark of potential that these youth might not always see in themselves.”

Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mayor R.T. Rybak

Former Mayor of Minneapolis R.T. Rybak in partnership with numerous community stakeholders, created a Blueprint for Action, which drew on a mix of increased law enforcement and public health strategies to address the root causes of violence and significantly reduce and prevent youth violence. Mentoring is front and center in the Blueprint’s goals to connect every youth with a trusted adult; intervene at the first sign that youth are at risk for violence; restore youth who have gone down the wrong path; and unlearn the culture of violence in the community.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James

During his time in office, Mayor Sly James was committed to ensuring every child received a high-quality education regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic background. Mayor James supported several initiatives designed to ensure the success of Kansas City’s young people, including the Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiative, a program designed to support careers of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and the national Million Women Mentors initiative, which aims to find mentors for girls and young women interested in STEM careers.

More Information on Mayor James

Hildreth, Nebraska, Mayor Roger Boyer

Former Mayor of Hildreth Roger Boyer, is a life-long educator and public servant whose commitment to mentoring led to the founding of two TeamMates Mentoring Program chapters, providing hundreds of students with the support and encouragement of a mentor. He served on the Board of Directors for the Wilcox-Hildreth chapter of TeamMates and had two mentees with whom he met every week. For his efforts, Mayor Boyer was recognized at the Midland Mentoring Partnership’s 2015 Mentoring Awareness Luncheon. Based on his years of experience as a mentor, Roger said, “I truly understand the power of mentoring and want to have it available to as many of our students as possible.” Mayor Boyer encouraged organizations in the area to support the local TeamMates chapter financially and issued a proclamation in November 2015 to affirm the city’s support for mentoring and to raise awareness of the need for mentors in the community. As mayor, Roger continuously advocated for the expansion of mentoring opportunities because “mentoring is a key component in helping students be successful and is a powerful investment in their future.”

Hickman, Nebraska, Mayor Doug Hanson

Former Mayor of Hickman Doug Hanson, was involved with the TeamMates Mentoring Program for 14 years and strongly encouraged others to get involved in mentoring, saying, “I believe it is important to recognize the value of mentoring for young people and of the benefits you receive for volunteering just a little of your time.” During his time in TeamMates, Mayor Hanson mentored multiple young men through high school graduation. “My first mentee was the first male in his immediate family to graduate from high school. This accomplishment was very rewarding for him and I felt equally rewarded.” As mayor, Hanson provided city employees with flexible schedules so they can mentor during the work day and issued a public statement in support of them doing so. Doug will continues to champion TeamMates in Nebraska and hopes to see more public institutions support mentoring. “I would encourage other mayors and elected officials to allow your staff to mentor through programs like TeamMates and to take part in such a rewarding experience yourself as well.”

Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker

In partnership with former Mayor of Newark Cory Booker, the Newark Mentoring Movement (NMM) was officially launched in July of 2012. NMM strived to embed mentoring into the culture of the City of Newark. NMM planned to match 10,000 youth in healthy mentoring relationships by 2017 with the help of strong leaders in the city. Since the organization’s inception, NMM held multiple mentor recruitment efforts at local colleges/universities, built advisory relationships with 17 local mentoring programs, and developed various strategies to engage local corporations to adopt corporate mentoring models. NMM also started the initial recruitment stages of high-quality national mentoring providers that are not presently engaged in Newark. The Mayor’s leadership during his tenure helped set the stage for NMM to transform the community through effective mentoring relationships.

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New York City, New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg included youth mentoring in several citywide initiatives with training provided by MENTOR New York. Launched in 2009, NYC Service aimed to set higher standards in tackling the city’s most pressing challenges through volunteerism to strengthen communities; help neighbors in need; improve education; protect the environment; increase public health; and enhance emergency preparedness. Systemized and less expensive criminal background checks were a part of this initiative. Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative to reclaim the lives of New York’s young men of color included Cornerstone programs that offered mentoring at sites in Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens. Finally, NYC Success Mentors, which has been highlighted at a variety of MENTOR events, is a research-based, data-driven mentoring model that seeks to improve attendance, behavior and educational outcomes for students at risk in low-income communities. This was the largest public school-based mentoring effort in the country and has resulted in an increase in thousands of school days for New York City students.

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Charlotte, North Carolina, Mayor Jennifer Roberts

Former Mayor of Charlotte Jennifer Roberts actively supported local children and youth initiatives by engaging with community organizations working to improve outcomes for Charlotte’s young people. She supported the Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance, a coalition of 50 existing mentoring organizations that worked together with a primary focus on providing positive role models for young people in areas ranging from academic assistance to leadership development, and accepted the challenge to become a My Brother’s Keeper Community (MBKC) to provide additional support to young people from communities of the highest need.

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Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mayor Dewey Bartlett

Former Mayor of Tulsa Dewey Bartlett and his Mayor’s Mentoring Breakfast during National Mentoring Month was not only a celebration, but also a call to increase the number of mentors who volunteered in one-to-one and school-based settings. “Mentoring is not just a one-day-a-week effort, it’s a long-term commitment,” Bartlett said in his remarks. Panelists at the breakfast who attested to the positive outcomes of mentoring represented organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma, the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce (Partners in Education), the YMCA and Capital One. The mayor’s wife, Victoria, spearheaded the “Mentoring to the Max” program for several years, and recruited others to experience the joy of mentoring. “I have a vision for this city,” she said. “We have 10,131 children that live in poverty. I believe that we need to recruit every corporation, every faith-based group to go into our public schools, to allow their employees to go one hour a week to read to a child and stay with that child all the way through high school. We will be interrupting the cycle of poverty.”

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mayor Michael Nutter

Former Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter, as part of his education platform, established the Graduation Coaches Campaign within the Office of Education in 2011. The program paired mentors with young people to coach them through high school and into college. MENTOR Independence Region United Way’s Campaign for Mentors provided funding and training. To date, more than 1,800 coaches have been trained to work with Philadelphia’s youth.

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Warwick, Rhode Island, Mayor Scott Avedisian

Former Mayor of Warwick Scott Avedisian was a long-time supporter of mentoring as the former mayor of MENTOR Rhode Island’s host city, and was a staunch supporter of the Warwick Mentor Program operated by MENTOR Rhode Island. He allowed Warwick city employees to mentor, advocated for increased funding for mentoring, and was a key participant in numerous mentoring events and celebrations. During these events he always offered thanks to mentors for their hard work in improving the community by helping the children. He validated efforts by always noting what he saw throughout Warwick as evidence that mentoring works.

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San Antonio, Texas, Mayor Ivy R. Taylor

Former Mayor of San Antonio Ivy R. Taylor was committed to ensuring that every San Antonian was connected to opportunities for prosperity. One of the Mayor’s most important initiatives, My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA), sought to change the life outcomes of those in their community by ensuring that all youth, regardless of what zip code they grew up in, had the same opportunities to succeed. Mentoring was a key component to accomplishing that task. One-on-one caring relationships with a responsible adult can make a tremendous difference in the lives of young men and boys. Through her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mayor Taylor herself mentored a young girl from junior high into high school. Additionally, the Mayor launched the San Antonio Mentoring Collaborative to recruit 10,000 mentors from the city’s faith community to serve local students.