PARTNERSHIP CONNECTION: Connecting Our Partners to Our Work

February 2016 

Business and Government Working Together: The Connecticut Mentoring Fund

Last month, Jill Spineti was joined by business and government leaders from across the state to announce the results of the first round of funding for the Connecticut Mentoring Fund, the public-private fund that was created in 2014 to improve program’s quality standards and help close the mentoring gap across the state.  First Niagara Foundation made the initial investment in the Fund and it was matched by the Appropriations Health Subcommittee under the leadership of State Representative Patricia Dillon and State Senator Terry Gerratana.  

In its first year, the Fund awarded $71,000 in grants to 10 mentoring programs across the state.   

Hartford, CT – State Representative Patricia Dillon (D-New Haven) joined other legislative leaders including State Senators Coleman (D-Hartford), Looney (D-New Haven), and Winfield (D-New Haven)and the Governor’s Prevention Partnership at the Legislative Office Building Friday to announce the results of the Connecticut Mentoring Fund, a public-private fund that was created in 2014 to provide funding for youth mentoring programs to increase the number of youth served by the programs and improve the quality of mentoring program practices.

The fund was created through an appropriation authorized by the Appropriations Health subcommittee, which is led by Dillon and State Senator Terry Gerratana (D-New Britain), and was matched with funding through the First Niagara Foundation’s Mentoring Matters program.  It is administered through the Governor’s Prevention Partnership and managed by a five member independent advisory council.  To match the state’s investment in mentoring, the Governor’s Prevention Partnership leveraged private investments in the fund.

“We recognize that this is another difficult budget year for the General Assembly, but for every dollar that is invested in early prevention, there is $10 in savings later on,” said Spineti, “We are hopeful that the results of the Connecticut Mentoring Fund demonstrate to elected officials and policy makers how much a little bit of money can do for these programs – many of which are operating on shoe string budgets – to bring better program quality and provide more mentors across the state.”

The Fund awarded $71,000 in grants to 10 mentoring programs in eight communities across the state.  These programs impact more than 2,000 Connecticut youth.  The first round of grants were awarded in June resulting in 374 additional Connecticut youth being mentored; 100 new mentors being recruited; and 685 mentors receiving enhanced training to help better serve their mentees.

Programs that received awards were:  Bridgeport Public Education Fund, Family ReEntry (Bridgeport), Plainville Community Schools, Norwalk Mentor Program, Westport Mentor Program, Klingberg Family Centers (New Britain), Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters (Hartford), The RiseUp Group (Hartford), Stamford Public Education Foundation, and Boys & Girls Club of New Haven.

One in three youth in Connecticut could benefit from a mentor, but don’t have one and a major goal of the fund is to expand mentoring, with a focus on urban areas of the state.

“Quality mentoring relationships are crucially important,” explained Roland Harmon, Program Director of the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, “When President Obama created the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to provide more support to young men of color, we recognized there was a role for us to play by working to close the mentoring gap and provide the highest quality mentoring relationships.  As a successful public-private partnership, we knew the model of bringing the public and private sectors to solve a societal problem worked, and we were so pleased that the General Assembly and First Niagara Foundation were willing to step forward as leaders.”

“We believe quality mentoring programs have a direct and positive impact on the children they serve today, as well as the future workforce and economic health of our communities tomorrow.  So, it only seems natural that business leaders take a lead in advancing the mentoring movement – by not only providing needed financial support, but by being mentors as well -- and First Niagara is proud to do both.” said Ken Walker First Vice President, New England Team Leader, First Niagara Private Client Services and board member of the Governor’s Prevention Partnership.  “I also want to thank the Connecticut General Assembly for joining us in investing in the fund.  We see this as an important resource to mentoring organizations across our state.”

There is currently a wait list of additional mentoring programs across the state who are working to strengthen program practices and have asked to apply for funding through the Connecticut Mentoring Fund; First Niagara Foundation has committed additional dollars for this coming year to support another round of funding.

Quality mentoring programs lead to long-term meaningful relationship with youth which improves their educational outcomes and self-esteem; reduces juvenile recidivism and risky behaviors; and creates greater connection and engagement in their communities. 

Watch the press conference here: