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New Partnership Aims To Recruit 1,000 New Mentors For Milwaukee Youth

Emily Files
From left: Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, MPS School Board President Mark Sain, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin at a Jan. 9 event announcing MENTOR Greater Milwaukee.

Mentors can help at-risk children stay in school, go to college and find a job. Even though there are many mentorship programs in Milwaukee, the efforts are piecemeal. But there’s a new organization in town that’s meant to bring together and bolster the city's mentorship programs.

In 2016, a report recommended Milwaukee create a mentoring network to fill the gaps. Two years later, that’s happening, with the launch of MENTOR Greater Milwaukee. The network is backed by the city, school district and Milwaukee’s hometown NBA team, the Bucks.  

Executive Director Alicia Moore spoke at a press conference Wednesday morning in the Fiserv Forum. She told the story of a girl growing up on Milwaukee’s north side who lost her mother.

“The little girl starts to act out. She makes inappropriate decisions,” Moore said. “She becomes pregnant at 14, a mother at 15. But this is where her mentor intervenes. She gave her the first nurturing and caring relationship she ever had.”

That struggling teenager was Moore herself. Now, she’s on the other side, working to provide mentors to children in difficult situations like she once was.

Moore says the overarching work of MENTOR Greater Milwaukee is to “build the capacity of new and existing mentoring organization.” The organization hopes to recruit 1,000 new mentors in the next two years.

Milwaukee Public Schools is a partner in the initiative. Students in the school district face plenty of challenges. In fact, 85 percent of MPS students are economically disadvantaged and about 30 percent don’t graduate high school.  

MPS Board President Mark Sain says pairing students with supportive adults can combat those challenges.

“We recognize an issue,” Sain said. “That issue is making sure our young people have a great foundational start in life. And we need your help in doing that.”

For more information about the new mentorship program, or to volunteer, visit milwaukeementor.com.

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Emily is WUWM's education reporter and a news editor.
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