In the United States, approximately 5.6 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are disconnected from school and work, and many are not getting the support they need to drive greater engagement. One in three young people— nearly 16 million— will reach the age of 19 without having ever had a mentor in their life of any kind. These rates are even higher for at-risk youth, who experience higher rates of poverty, limited networks, and under-resourced schools. Research shows that even one positive, consistent, caring, relationship with an adult can offset nearly every risk factor in a young person’s life and improve their chances of success.
Today, companies of all sizes are recognizing the role they can play in filling this “mentorship gap” and have simultaneously discovered that they can use mentorship programs to realize both business and corporate responsibility goals. According to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s most recent Community Involvement Study, companies consistently rank youth programs as one of the most important social issues addressed through their community involvement efforts (See Figure A).