I’m writing this email both as a constituent of your district and twitter follower, as well as an advocate for youth mentoring programs. As you know, Governor Patrick vetoed 16 line items from the FY2010 budget on Monday, one of which was the Mentoring Matching Grants line item (7061-9634), which this year supported 21 mentoring programs throughout the state and moved 600 youth off waiting lists and into positive relationships with caring adult mentors. This line item is incredibly important to mentoring programs in our state, is a competitive, transparent, and economical grant program that provides critical connections for our youth, and was the only line-item completely eliminated that provides direct services to vulnerable, at-risk youth.
The legislature has fought for this line all throughout the budget process this year, filing and passing amendments to restore funding in both the House and Senate when it was not included in the initial budget proposals of the Governor and the Ways and Means committees in both chambers. I thank you for that commitment to keeping mentoring a legislative budget priority in the midst of such a difficult fiscal reality, and am asking for your support again.
In the letter expressing your budget priorities to Chairman Murphy, you communicated a hope to preserve key programs that save money in the long run, even though there is a natural tendency to cut such programs in favor of those that serve the most acute immediate needs. Mentoring is a strategy proven to be effective in preventing a myriad of risky behaviors among youth as well as promoting positive youth development. Based on research conducted with the UMass Donahue Institute, and confirmed by national research, children with adult mentors are more likely to: Experience school-related improvements such as higher grades and attendance (64%); Report improvements in personal development such as self-confidence, peer and parent relationships, and hope for the future (72%); and Reduce high-risk behaviors, including violent tendencies, and drug, alcohol and tobacco use (63%).This Mentoring Grants program has supported almost 9,000 mentoring matches since its creation in 1999, and funding this year would enable an additional 500 youth to be matched in professionally supported relationships with caring adult volunteer mentors.
I respectfully request that you support public investment for mentoring in the Commonwealth. Please reach out to Chairman Murphy and Speaker DeLeo to and ask that the House take up an override for the Mentoring Matching Grants Line Item (7061-9634).
Thank you for your time and consideration.