City of Alexandria, VA
In 2006, a series of community meetings were assembled in an attempt to gain feedback from residents on how to enhance resources for youth. A theme surfaced: more mentors – relationships with positive adult influences - were needed for our City’s youth.
Service providers at that time examined some issues and found a sample of 58 especially at-risk youth showing particular concerns. These youth had commonalities: they had minimal connection to their schools and/or community; poor academic performance; emotional issues; and no one person in their life that had the time, nor inclination, to focus their attention solely on one individual youth.
At that spring’s Gang Awareness Summit, where some 600 attendees provided feedback on support for our children, the idea of improving mentoring was among the list of suggestions provided by attendees.
That same year, the Alexandria Community Services Board held its annual public hearing to discuss mental health and substance abuse issues in the community. At that hearing, citizens and stakeholders, including youth themselves who were in need of mentors came forward to testify that mentors could improve the health and well-being of the youth in the our community and Alexandria needed to focus on enhancing the mentor programs in the City.
In 2006, mentoring programs were scattered throughout the City with each one operating independently and with little coordination among programs. In an effort to support the work of the several mentoring programs already in existence, a number of community members, City and Schools’ staff and members of the non-profit community initiated a collaborative partnership of citywide mentoring programs appropriately titled, “The Alexandria Mentoring Partnership (AMP).” The City’s Gang Prevention Coordinator took on the responsibility of acting as the AMP’s Coordinator.
As the AMP learned of the large number of youth needing mentors, it became increasingly evident that a full-time staff person was needed to adequately develop the AMP programs in order to effectively reach all of the vulnerable youth who need a mentor. In the fall of 2009, a full-time position was created by the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act: The Alexandria Mentoring Partnership Coordinator. With the addition of this full-time position, the AMP is now able to manage the volume of referrals of mentors and mentees that are received from the City of Alexandria. Additionally, the coordinator has been able to develop a number of initiatives including: a new website, an increased public awareness/communications campaign, a database for managing referrals, and a method for ensuring that all AMP programs are implementing quality programs based on national best-practice models.
The Alexandria Mentoring Partnership (AMP) is dedicated to strategically expanding quality youth mentoring in Alexandria, Virginia. Operated through the Alexandria Court Service Unit, the AMP acts as an umbrella organization for mentoring programs throughout the city. The AMP acts as a clearinghouse for mentor and mentee referrals. Additionally, the AMP provides our partner programs with opportunities to collaborate and share best practices on mentor recruitment, training, and support through networking and advocacy.
The work of the AMP ultimately supports close to 300 mentoring relationships each year by working with eleven different programs. Many entities are involved with the AMP, including local government, religious, and nonprofit organizations, as well as the Alexandria City Public Schools, foundations, businesses, local elected leadership, and individual community members.
Mentoring takes many forms:
· one-to-one mentoring or group mentoring
· on-site or off-site mentoring
· social or academic mentoring
· elementary, middle school, or high school mentoring
At the heart of all the AMP programs lies a common belief that mentoring positively impacts youth development, and that every child in the city of Alexandria who needs a mentor should have one.