Research studies consistently reveal the positive impacts of establishing mentoring relationships. Attendance rates increase. Academic performance improves. Graduation rates rise. It’s not a secret any longer.

Quite simply, mentoring works. One of the most promising and encouraging signs happening in Omaha is the number of citizens stepping up to become mentors – formally and informally. Residents from many walks of life are answering the call. More are needed.

Over 1,200 Omaha Residents Answer the Call to Mentor

Seven years ago, the Midlands Mentoring Partnership (MMP) was one of a number of organizations and initiatives launched by Building Bright Futures. Using the BBF Community Action plan as a guide and incorporating the results from a study conducted by the Great Omaha After School Alliance, it was determined that there were thousands of youth in need of mentors. An initial goal was set to recruit 3,000 additional mentors to work with youth in the city. The response has been tremendous.

In 2013, MMP launched the first coordinated, citywide recruitment effort. The results were inspiring. The campaign generated the interest of over 600 individuals. It was so successful, a second campaign was launched in 2014, and there were more than 640 who were engaged through the initial process. MMP and their 10 partner agencies are moving the dial in connecting youth in our community with caring adults.

MMP agencies are committed to formal mentoring, which encourages developmental relationships to help the mentored participants realize their full potential and define their own vision for the future. MMP agencies include: 100 Black Men; Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands; Teammates; Partnership for Kids; Girls Inc.; Hope Center for Kids; Youth Emergency Services; Release Ministries; Kids Can Community Center; Kent Bellows Mentoring Program; and the Bike Union Mentoring Project.

MMP recently held their annual Salute to Mentoring. The organization is continuing to focus on all forms of mentoring, including: One to One; Couples Mentoring; Group Mentoring; Team Mentoring; Peer Mentoring; and, a new effort focused on Youth-Initiated Mentoring.

MMP is also partnering with the Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaborative and North Omaha Cradle to Career Collaborative to specifically identify mentors for sixth grade students transitioning to seventh grade in the targeted areas. The first cohort has been identified and the matching process is underway. It’s not too late to
become a mentor!

In addition to the efforts of MMP, the 100 Black Men, Urban League of Nebraska, Revive! Omaha Magazine and the Empowerment Network formally launched an initiative to identify and recruit African-American men to become mentors, coaches and role models for African-American young men. The initiative is informally referred to as “Standing Together.” Building on five years of work with the Striving for Success: Black Male Summit and two year old Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaborative, a planning meeting was held in late June of 2014. Attendees included representatives from the lead agencies, churches, fraternities, Omaha Public Schools, community organizations and elected officials to set some initial goals and discuss various strategies.

The group held Strategic Gatherings of African-American Men in July and August 2014. By the end of August, over 300 men had joined the effort. Over 200 had participated in the Strategic Gatherings and Planning Meetings. One hundred completed the profile, and 52 had expressed an interest in becoming mentors.

Building on the successes of 2014, the group has now increased to 450 participants and has set a target to reach 700 African-American men by the end of September. The planning team members are working with Omaha Public Schools to coordinate partnerships with schools in the Empowerment Network’s North Omaha Village Zone target area and other buildings identified by the district. Those interested in mentoring have been referred to the 100 Black Men and the Midlands Mentoring Partnership. They will finalize applications and walk those who are interested through background checks and other requirements. The Phase I projects have been identified and men are mobilizing into action.

Beyond the mentoring, men have signed up to become greeters, readers, coaches and role models. A number of successes were garnered in 2014. Collectively, participating organizations were able to reach over 2,500 African-American young men in the Omaha Public Schools system.

The men also participate in the Annual Striving for Success: Black Male Summit, which was launched in 2010. This annual summit brings together 150 to 200 African-American 9th grade young men and 40-50 African-American men for a day of role modeling, career exploration and man-toman conversations.