For Immediate Release - September 26, 2011

Commonwealth Corporation Awarded $609,952 Youth Mentoring Grant to Work with At Risk Youth in Five Communities

Boston, Brockton, Holyoke, Lawrence, and Worcester awarded grants to enhance education and workforce opportunities.

BOSTON - Monday, September 26, 2011 -- The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that Commonwealth Corporation has been awarded a $609,952 grant from the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to support mentoring programs for youth in the custody of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) in five cities across the Commonwealth: Boston, Brockton, Holyoke, Lawrence, and Worcester. The grants will help advance the Administration's efforts to end youth violence, while increasing access to education and workforce opportunities for youth.

"Mentoring and education are critical to reducing youth violence and helping these young people return to the community as productive and successful members of society," said Governor Deval Patrick. "I applaud the Department of Justice for supporting our efforts to provide hope and opportunity for at risk youth across the Commonwealth."

"Our administration has implemented a comprehensive approach that includes working with cities and towns to help end youth violence," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray. "These grants will help support our multi-pronged approach by providing young people with the right resources, including mentoring and access to education and the workforce, so they can become positive contributors within their community."

The awards will be distributed to five designated community-based partners, through Commonwealth Corporation, a quasi-public corporation within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The program, developed in partnership with DYS, will support transitional services for approximately 144 youth ages 15 - 17 upon their return home following residential treatment at a DYS facility. Transitional services will include the implementation of a community-based one-on-one mentoring model as well as increased access to education and workforce opportunities. Commonwealth Corporation and the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership will provide training to all community-based partners on effective mentoring, including methods for recruiting and supporting mentors, mentor training, and ways to ensure high quality mentoring connections.

"Transitional services are an integral part of helping youth return to the community and prepare for entry into the workforce," said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne F. Goldstein. "These programs serve as another strong step to help form a safe and successful youth population in these communities." The funding will also allow for the hiring of key staff integral to ensuring the success of evidence-based programming, including site-based Mentor Program Coordinators and a Statewide Program Manager.

"I am honored that the Department of Justice has awarded Commonwealth Corporation with this grant," said Nancy Snyder, President of Commonwealth Corporation. "Being part of a mentoring program can make an important difference. Research shows that young people involved in mentoring programs increase their chances of high school graduation and college attendance, and decrease the likelihood of substance abuse and other risky behaviors."

"This grant will help support the Department of Youth Services' goal of providing a range of community reentry services to our clients that that will help support their ability to serve as contributing members of society," said Jane Tewksbury, DYS Commissioner. "Nothing has a more powerful impact in shaping a child's positive development than the meaningful presence of caring adults in their lives. This grant is the tangible means to engage with the Commonwealth Corporation and strong regional partners in a collaborative effort to make that happen for DYS involved youth, the highest risk youth in the state." The grant program is administered by DOJ's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention under the FY11 Second Chance Act Juvenile Mentoring Initiative.

The five cities across the Commonwealth chosen for the funds represent 44 percent of the DYS caseload. Each of the partner organizations in the designated cities will receive $84,000 over a two-year period to work with regional DYS offices to recruit mentors within the local community and match youth with mentors. Community-based partners include: Boston: Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries provides exemplary job training and related services to help individuals achieve independence and dignity through work. Goodwill has a long tradition of working with Boston-area youth, offering a number of academic, recreational and career-oriented programs and activities throughout the year for local young people with great potential, but limited opportunities.

Brockton: The Old Colony YMCA (OCY), based in Brockton, is a non-profit organization dedicated to offering a variety of services to youth in 29 southeastern Massachusetts communities. OCY helps individuals and families build strong minds, strong spirits, and strong bodies. The Y's Big Sister Big Brother program, affiliated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, provides youth aged 6-18 with positive, caring adult mentors.

Holyoke: The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke (HBGC), founded in 1892 is an affiliate of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, one of the nation's oldest and premiere youth organizations. HBGC offers a wide range of programs for youth of all ages, focusing on helping youth become responsible, caring citizens; create aspirations for the future; achieve and maintain healthy, active lifestyles; enhance self-expression and creativity; and develop fitness and social interpersonal skills.

Lawrence: Family Service, Inc. (FSI) is a non-profit social service agency located in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Originally established in 1854 as a relief society for the area's newly arriving immigrant mill workers, Family Service has grown in recent years from a small mental health clinic to a large and dynamic organization providing over 20 programs and services. FSI operates five different community-based and one-on-one mentoring programs.

Worcester: Straight Ahead Ministries works with juvenile offenders in Worcester to help them discover new ways of thinking and living. The program focuses especially on youth who are in reentry, providing structure and support to help see them through each step of their critical transition into their communities.

Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) is the only statewide organization solely dedicated to strategically expanding quality youth mentoring in Massachusetts. It is the umbrella organization for more than 170 mentoring organizations that support 23,000 youth in mentoring relationships across the state. MMP provides services including training and technical assistance, networking and professional development, mentor recruitment campaigns, advocacy, resource development & recognition, and mentor-mentee match activities. ###