Around 1,000 individuals committed to mentoring converged on the nation’s capital last week for the National Mentoring Summit at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington D.C.
Now in its sixth year, the signature event is one of the largest mentoring gatherings in the world. Organized by MENTOR, the annual symposium is a unique opportunity to explore and advance the impact of mentoring on individuals and communities at large.
This year’s theme, Connection | Growth | Opportunity, covered a range of topics from informal guidance to mentoring as a strategy to reduce inequality and improve police-community relations. The jam-packed three-day event included workshops, networking opportunities, sought-after speakers, and two event receptions.
“We seek to broaden the movement by communicating the powerful stories from the exceptional programs, resilient young people, heroic parents, and extraordinary communities in the mentoring movement,” said David Shapiro, president and CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. “These proof points serve as daily inspiration and motivation to continue our common work towards ensuring all young people are connected to networks of support and guidance necessary for thriving communities.”
Registered attendees, who also comprised of live stream participants, included educators, youth-serving organizations, government and civic leaders, among others. “The Summit brings together leaders from the research and practice communities, public and private sectors, all who have embraced mentoring as a priority,” added Shapiro.
For the second year, the Summit provided a grassroots opportunity for attendees to advocate for mentoring during Capitol Hill Day. Participants met with members of Congress to lobby for policies that advance mentoring as a systemic solution.
According to findings published by MENTOR, quality mentoring has positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects children and young adults to personal growth and development, and social and economic responsibility. Yet one in three people grow up without this critical asset.
“Mentoring is very important today for our young people because building a solid foundation and leading by example will assure a very successful transition of strong future leaders and a safer world,” said Willie Iles Jr., National Director, Government and Community Relations the Boy Scouts of America, who was one of the attendees.
Those who embrace mentoring have long understood the correlation between effective mentoring and success in school and everyday life. Young adults who are at risk of falling off the track but have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college, according to statistics on the MENTOR website.
Roland Williams, an 8-year NFL veteran and motivational speaker, was one of the high-profile figures that traveled to D.C. to attend the summit. Williams, a passionate advocate of mentoring, runs his own scheme in Rochester, New York. The Champion Academy Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative is a 12-month program for middle and high school students.
“Mentorship is a critical ingredient to make our communities better,” said Williams, in an interview with UrbanGeekz’s Kunbi Tinuoye.“Mentorship changed my life as a young man. I wouldn’t be where I was today going on to play in the NFL for years making millions of dollars. All these things wouldn’t have happened without key individuals taking the time to pour into me.”
Dr. Alvin S. Perry, the founder of the Atlanta-based boutique fashion brand, PV Designs Inc., attended the summit as an exhibitor. He said his Bow-Tie It Up™ brand [which focuses on branding, character building, and fundraising initiatives] was popular among attendees.
“The BowTie It Up Mentoring 50 Campaign was well received and I look forward to working with Mentoring Programs from all over the country,” said Dr. Perry. “I loved the diversity that was represented at the National Mentoring Summit; inclusion was very much present at the conference.”
MAIN PHOTO: Chief executive of MENTOR David Shapiro with the opening plenary session participants at the 2016 National Mentoring Summit
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