I hope you are having a great holiday season! I’m sending you this exciting (and extended) programming summary because you’ve played such a key role in supporting and praying for The Mentoring Project. Your investment has paid dividends of community impact across North America!
As you may know, Kari and I moved to Oklahoma City from Portland just over three years ago, and in November 2012, we launched our TMPOKC office, while continuing our national programming. OKC programming started with our first mentor training 125 people at Frontline Church in January 2013. In less than three years, I am extremely proud of what our small team has been able to accomplish both in OKC and nationally:
1. Mentor Trainings - We recruit, train and match mentors from the church to mentor at-risk, fatherless youth:
Both for our own partner sites and for other mentoring organizations. We match mentors ourselves and freely give away hundreds of other mentors - as we know that it "lifts the city." Each one of these trainings takes 9-12 months of preparation time, working with partners, church leaders, and making sure we have the right people in the room and the right follow-up plan in place. In less than three years, we have had some 3000 people go through our mentor trainings - in the following places: Oklahoma City (1500+). Our largest local mentor training was Life.Church Edmond with nearly 500 people in attendance.
We have conducted national mentor trainings in: Portland, Philadelphia and Carlisle PA, Jackson, MS, Nashville, Raleigh and Asheville, NC at the Billy Graham Training Center, Ft. Myers, FL, Orange Co, Albuquerque, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, Detroit, Charleston, SC, Tri Cities, VA, Grand Rapids and Port Huron, MI, and Vancouver, Canada. Also, over 400 global communities have ordered and used our Mentor Toolkit to train their own mentors including, churches in South America and Africa, a denomination in New Zealand, Promise Keepers Canada, Hillsong Church, and many others.
2. We have conducted two National Mentoring Conferences, Long Live Mentoring and PLACE.
Each conference was attended by participants from over 25 states, and several different countries. The purpose of these conferences was to help steward and advance the national, faith-based mentoring conversation and to invite people into our mission of rewriting the fatherless story through mentoring. We were honored to host leaders to speak live on stage including: Dr. John Perkins, Bob Goff, NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, Willie and John Luke Robertson of Duck Dynasty, Wanda Pratt (Mama Durant), Carey Casey, Sister Rosemary, Ed Eason from the Carrie Underwood band, Joshua Dubois from the White House, Rosanna Tomiuk, Donald Miller, Rob Morris of Love146, Josh Shipp, David Bailey, Jamie Tworkowski of TWLOHA, Eugene Schneeberg of the Department of Justice, Annie Downs, Lindsey Nobles as well as many of local OKC leaders such as: Lt. Wayland Cubit, Blair Humphreys, Marcus Jackson, Vernon Deas, Rachel Hernandez, Josh Kouri and many others.
We have seen amazing stories come from these conferences: one young man received a college scholarship, another man left our first conference and started a mentoring organization in Indiana, he came back this year with a hundred new mentors, a group of teenagers who came from a Juvenile Correctional Facility were deeply moved to meet the speakers, another young man left inspired and became a foster dad, some signed up to mentor and others donated generously to our mission.
3. Gang-prevention mentoring.
For over two years, we have worked alongside the OKCPD FACT Gang Prevention Unit - where we have recruited, trained and matched mentors for these youth. We have a paid staff member in both of the FACT community sites - working as the mentor care associate. This mentoring partnership model is so unique and has been so effective, it is getting national attention.
4. Mentor Moments and Other Community Initiatives
Mentor Moments are monthly experiences that we organize for mentors and their mentees. The experiences help build their relationship and create a city-wide sustainable mentoring network. Some of these mentor moments have been: Black Mesa dinosaur dig, backstage tours at Carrie Underwood concerts, a trip to the White House, OKC Thunder games, Ice Skating, Bowling, Portland Timbers games, and many other activities.
Each Fathers Day, we run a viral, social media Campaign called #DontBuytheTie with the objective to recruit mentors and raise support. We received a generous grant from Life.Church and used it to create three new mentor training videos and a new, Mentor Toolkit 2.0, trains individuals and churches to mentor.
The Mentoring Project would love to partner with your leadership and investment to expand further the reach of The Mentoring Project for mentors and fatherless kids. Next May 2016, we are having a small group of friends and supporters at Donald Miller's house in Nashville and we would love for you to come join the conversation. Learn more about this new giving circle by clicking http://thementoringprojectcommunity.org/
This Christmas, we are thankful for you - for your mentoring, for your prayers and financial support. We are honored to by your friendship, and we pray that we continue to see lives transformed by the simple power of mentors who win by showing up.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
The best is yet to be,
Dr. John Sowers
President, The Mentoring Project
P.S. We are funded by a tribe of generous monthly donors. Please consider donating $10 (or more) a month, to continue rewriting the fatherless story. To donate click here.