Help Us Save Youth Mentoring Programs!

September 16, 2020 Advocacy, Vermont Department For Children and Families, Vermont Mentoring Grants

Update (9/17/2020):

Your Voice Has Been Heard!

Yesterday, we asked for your help in reaching out to the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF), your local state senators, and the Governor’s office to ask them to restore youth mentoring funding to its established level of $170,000 in the DCF budget. We are excited to share with you this morning that after hearing from many of you in the last 18 hours, DCF has reversed its decision to cut this funding in this year’s budget!

First off, we, and the local mentoring programs that would have been directly impacted by this loss of funding, cannot thank you enough for your timely response! This reversal could not have happened without your swift action and outreach.

Secondly, now that the funding has been restored, we would greatly appreciate if you can hold off on any further communication with DCF or the Governor’s office. They are aware of the situation, and have responded in the way we collectively asked them to.

If there is a future need to conduct outreach around this funding, we know we can count on you! Thank you for all you do to support youth mentoring programs in Vermont.

Chad Butt
Executive Director
MENTOR Vermont

Original Post:

Earlier this week, the Vermont Department for Children and Families informed MENTOR Vermont that they intend to reduce their grant funding for youth mentoring programs by $50,000, from $170,000, the level at which it’s been at since 2011, to $120,000. 

We need YOUR help to call on DCF to restore their grant funding for youth mentoring programs to its established level of $170,000 per year. 

This is the second time this funding has been reduced, as it used to be budgeted at $250,000 annually from 2007 to 2010. MENTOR Vermont subgrants this funding, at no cost to the State, to local agencies and schools that coordinate youth mentoring programs across Vermont.

Strong, healthy mentoring relationships are key to young people’s success; this is never truer than in times of crisis. The pandemic has posed many challenges for all of us, but mentors, who are all volunteers, have done a commendable job of maintaining their connection with their mentees during this time. We believe that every young person in the state has suffered a collective ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) during this crisis, and the protective factors that mentors provide are needed now more than ever. For many young people, their relationship with their mentor may be the only consistent part of their lives at this time. 

I cannot express loudly enough how proud we are of the work that mentoring programs are doing now during this time of uncertainty to support the youth in their communities. Beyond their typical roles, many of them have taken on new responsibilities to support mentees’ families during the crisis, including assisting with food and internet access, providing COVID-19 information in languages other than English, distributing masks, and helping to support mentees’ virtual education.

We appreciate DCF’s continued support of youth mentoring even at a reduced level. However, this cut represents a very small amount in DCF’s overall budget, and it could have devastating ripple effects for local mentoring programs that rely on this funding to make ends meet. Some of them may be forced to close as a result, or to cut back on the number of youth they support. Given the additional stressors of the pandemic, and the increased need for mentors, we are disappointed that DCF would look to cut funding from youth mentoring at a time when young people in our state are more isolated than ever and programs are in a harder position to be able to fundraise to meet their budgets.

Please reach out to the following people and let them know that you want DCF to continue supporting youth mentoring at the $170,000 level.

If you have questions or would like to know who to direct people to, please contact me using the information below. Thank you for all you do to support young people in your community!

Chad Butt
Executive Director
MENTOR Vermont