MENTOR Rhode Island gets $491K to develop mentorship program for at-risk youth

PROVIDENCE – MENTOR Rhode Island has been awarded a $491,332 grant to support the launch of a new mentorship program to work with youths involved in the juvenile justice system, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., announced Wednesday.

MENTOR Rhode Island is a nonprofit technical assistance provider of the National Mentoring Resource Center, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The DOJ office also provided the grant award.

The new program will fund a public-private partnership between MENTOR Rhode Island and R.I. Family Court, with a goal of keeping young people out of the criminal justice system and providing the skills to become productive adults. As part of the program, the R.I. Family Court will refer at-risk youth to MENTOR Rhode Island’s diversionary initiative for one-on-one mentoring.

“Kids who end up in the juvenile justice system deserve a chance to get their lives on track,” said Whitehouse in a statement. “Rhode Island has led the way on juvenile justice for years, and this new mentoring partnership will continue that work.”

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The program will be developed in partnership with Youth in Action and Foster Forward.

“We are thrilled to engage in this work,” said Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO of MENTOR Rhode Island. “We will join with local communities to increase diversion opportunities for Black and brown young people, as research shows they are more likely to be involved in the formalized justice system than their white peers. Together with our partners from Youth In Action and Foster Forward, we will grow and support mentoring relationships as well as workplace readiness and leadership skills for young people who are at risk of falling into the school to prison pipeline.”

The program is expected to serve 200 youth ages 12 to 17 over the three-year term of the grant.

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