Two Mentoring Programs for Wilmington’s At-Risk Youth

WILMINGTON, DE – Two new mentoring programs targeting Wilmington’s at-risk youth have been awarded federal funding, U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper and U.S. Representative Mike Castle announced today. The programs will provide individual mentoring for Wilmington’s at-risk African American and Latino children. Delaware’s Congressional Delegation wrote letters of support to the Department of Justice and worked together to secure the almost $440,000 in competitive grants. $220,000 was awarded to the Volunteers for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (VAPP) and $219,994 to the Latino American Community Center (LACC). The monies were awarded to the nonprofit organizations through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Juvenile Mentoring Program (JUMP). The grants will match at least 25 at-risk Wilmington youth with adult mentors each year for three years, to raise self-esteem and improve academic performance. “One of the most effective ways to help young people overcome challenges and achieve their potential is through mentoring. This money will link up kids in Wilmington with positive role models that will help them develop, learn and grow,” said Biden. “It is important that every child in Delaware has a fair start. We are making great strides in helping our communities and our students realize their potential,” Carper said. “We must continue to work to level the playing field and give our kids the tools to succeed.” As Governor, Carper helped recruit thousands of mentors as part of the Creative Mentoring program and was actively involved in recruiting individuals and corporations to mentor Delaware’s at-risk children. Carper experienced the joy of mentoring first-hand in 1997 when he became a mentor to young Daryl Burton of Wilmington. Five years later, he continues to mentor once a week, every week, during the school year. “I believe we all have something positive to contribute to the youth in our communities- be it support, counsel or unconditional friendship. Now that we have secured the funds to run these programs, it is my hope that those who are able will turn out in droves so we can connect each Delaware child in need with a caring adult,” Castle said. As Chairman of the Education Reform Subcommittee, Castle helped author legislation to create a new mentoring program as part of the “No Child Left Behind Act”. Castle also serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Advisory Panel to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which supports mentoring as one of the methods to prevent teen pregnancy. VAPP will use the JUMP funds to begin the Creating Hope Junior Mentoring Program, providing one-on-one mentoring to at-risk African American children of incarcerated parents. The program will focus on reducing a child’s chance of academic failure and delinquency and will partner with Wilmington’s Warner Elementary School’s at-risk five and six year olds. The project will match these youth with mentors, including local business people and other successful individuals, and work with these children to reduce truancy, aid in conflict resolution and raise self-esteem. The LACC Juvenile Mentoring Program will provide one-to-one mentoring to Wilmington’s at- risk Latino youth in grades 3 to 5 that test “limited English proficient”. Eligible children will be from the District’s Bilingual Education Program at either William Lewis or Marbrook elementary schools. Students will be identified for mentoring based upon specific criteria: reading at least one grade below the appropriate level, lack of participation, behavioral problems, Chapter 1 eligibility, and belonging to a single parent family. The program will focus on reducing juvenile delinquency and gang participation, improving academic performance and reducing the school dropout rate for at-risk youth. The Latino American Community Center is located in the heart of Wilmington’s Hilltop neighborhood. A recent study conducted by the Delaware Department of Health and Human Services showed that Hilltop ranked number one in the state for a high number of teen mothers and single mothers, the need for prenatal care and the number of people receiving public assistance and the number of households with incomes below 200 percent of poverty level. For more detailed information on the two Wilmington programs awarded funding, call Darniece Hampton (VAPP) at 302-658-5277 or Maria Matos (LACC) at 302-655-73338.