President Obama Declares January 2017 National Mentoring Month

MENTOR: the National Mentoring Partnership
January 5th, 2017
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WASHINGTON, DC – 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of National Mentoring Month’s launch in 2002.  Since then, each January has served as an annual kickoff of the widespread movement to connect more of the nation’s young people with caring adult mentors. In the final month of his presidency, President Barack Obama has once again joined the efforts of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR), the NBA Family, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Highland Street Foundation by declaring January 2017 National Mentoring Month through a presidential proclamation:

“Nobody succeeds on their own: each young person’s strength and resilience is fostered by those who have taught them they can do anything they put their mind to. Whether helping mentees study for a test, learn a new skill, or lift their heads up after a setback, mentors provide them the chance they need to move forward and set their sights even higher. And in helping mentees achieve their goals, mentors can inspire them to reach back and provide the same support to someone else in need of a mentor.”

“We’re proud of our work with President Obama’s Administration to advance mentoring and this public declaration of the impact of mentoring on our nation’s unity, strength, and shared prosperity.” MENTOR CEO David Shapiro said.  “January is a time for every person invested in the mentoring movement to come together, celebrate the potential of our young people when supported, and call others to the movement. This show of support from the President’s administration as well as public officials around the nation validates how truly effective mentoring’s impact on communities can be in a host of arenas including education, workforce development, public health, and safety.”

January also marks the first anniversary of MENTOR’s national public awareness campaign, In Real Life, which was launched last year in partnership with the NBA and the Highland Street Foundation in support of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative.  The goal of In Real Life is to build a grassroots movement of mentors, both those who work with youth like teachers, coaches, and family friends, formal mentors through mentoring programs, public and private sector supporters, donors, and advocates who believe that an asset so critical – mentoring – cannot be left to chance. This building movement aims to close the gap for the 1 in 3 young people who do not have access to mentoring relationships which are necessary and proven to help them and the nation thrive.

During the campaign’s first year, countless real life mentors, celebrities, and public officials from the federal, state, and local levels lent their voices in support of mentoring: NBA stars Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Karl-Anthony Towns, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford; Grammy-award winning artist Kendrick Lamar; and Academy Award nominee Michael B. Jordan.  American Graduate Day Champions encouraged people to mentor and the Christian Science Monitor launched their EqualEd initiative challenging their readers to mentor. Governors from across the country honored mentoring in their states and the U.S. Congress passed resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate honoring National Mentoring Month.



This January, In Real Life will continue to showcase these voices through a series of videos entitled “Mentoring Flipped.”  These pieces will also celebrate the voices of young people as they show us that we all have something to teach each other. The videos released in January will feature NBA stars Isaiah Thomas, Tobias Harris and Aaron Gordon, 2016 World Series champion Dexter Fowler, and social media star Trent Shelton.

Several January dates have been highlighted as part of National Mentoring Month in an effort to create opportunities for engagement and promote the mentoring movement.

  • January 12, 2017: “I Am a Mentor Day,” when volunteers across our community and the country will share their stories about being a mentor on social media using #MentorIRL.
  • January 16, 2017: Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, when our nation will shine a spotlight on volunteerism and inspire people seeking service opportunities to learn more about mentoring.
  • January 17, 2017: International Mentoring Day, to celebrate the role of mentor by asking the world to share their ideas around mentoring and create space for an international conversation.
  • January 19, 2017: “Thank Your Mentor Day,” when we encourage anyone who has had a mentor to say thank you by sending a note, a card or sharing a story on social media using #MentorIRL.
  • February 1-3, 2017: The seventh annual National Mentoring Summit, which is the signature event for the national mentoring movement, will bring together approximately 1000 attendees, including practitioners, researchers, corporate partners, government and civic leaders, national youth-serving organizations and affiliates from MENTOR’s Mentoring Partnership Network in a forum to explore and advance mentoring’s positive impact on individuals and communities. As part of the Summit, mentoring advocates will gather on Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators and discuss key issues surrounding mentoring and young people in their communities.

All are encouraged to support National Mentoring Month by utilizing the digital materials and toolkits available on the campaign website. The campaign will be active on social media through the month of January using the hashtags #MentorIRL and #NationalMentoringMonth.

Each year since its launch in 2002, National Mentoring Month has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress.



MENTOR is the unifying champion for quality youth mentoring in the United States. MENTOR’s mission is to close the “mentoring gap” and ensure our nation’s young people have the support they need through quality mentoring relationships to succeed at home, school, and ultimately, work. To achieve this, MENTOR collaborates with its network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships and works to drive the investment of time and money into high impact mentoring programs and advance quality mentoring through the development and delivery of standards, cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art tools.

For more information on any of the events mentioned in this release, please contact: Liz Hardy, Director of Marketing & Communications | 617.303.4610|