Working in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the 4‑H National Mentoring Program supports the initiatives that assist in the development and maturity of community programs providing mentoring services to high-risk populations. The goal is to reduce juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, truancy, and other problems and high-risk behaviors. The program objective is to provide direct one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring, or peer-mentoring services to under-served youth populations.
The 4‑H National Mentoring Program features replication of three Programs of Distinction, recognized for implementing effective mentoring strategies with goals of improving family relationships, increasing social competencies, increasing school attendance, reducing juvenile delinquency, youth unemployment, and school failure.
The three model programs are:
- 4‑H Mentoring: Youth & Families With Promise (4‑H YFP) from Utah State University
- 4‑H Tech Wizards from Oregon State University
- 4‑H Living Interactive Family Education (4‑H LIFE) from the University of Missouri
The goals of the 4‑H National Mentoring Program (NMP) are –
- Increase youth social competency
- Improve family relationships
- Increase academic success
Successful applicants implement, monitor, and assess mentoring strategies. Because structured support is critical for mentoring relationships, best practices necessitate training for the mentor, volunteer screening, matching based in part on youth and volunteer preferences, oversight of the relationship, and data collection to track the relationship and positive outcomes arising from it. Factors critical to implementing effective mentoring programs include significant contact between mentor and mentee and a relationship in which the mentor is perceived as a friend rather than simply an authority figure.
Grantees replicate a program at one or more sites around the community, using the selected replication model. Sites must target at-risk or high-risk youth populations ages 8 through 17 years. OJJDP uses the term “at-risk” to denote youth exposed to high levels of risk in their families, homes, communities, and social environments to such a degree that could lead to educational failure, dropping out of school, or involvement in juvenile delinquency, including gang-related offenses. The term “high-risk” is used to designate youth with present or past involvement with the juvenile justice system. This term can also apply to youth with a parent or guardian in the military or who currently reside in Tribal communities.
4‑H Mentor Lakeisha Johnson - Alabama 4‑H LIFE Mentoring Program at Alabama A&M University
4‑H Today spoke with Lakeisha Johnson, the Project Site Coordinator for the 4‑H LIFE program. Since its development at Alabama Cooperative Extension in 2010, the 4‑H Living Interactive Family Education (4‑H LIFE) program addresses the needs of incarcerated youth and youth with incarcerated parents. Alabama A&M University was the first in the nation to use the 4‑H LIFE model in reverse working with incarcerated youth.