Press Releases

2004 Releases

January '05 Campaign Targets Baby Boomers: "Share what you know. Mentor a child!"

For immediate release:  December 16, 2004 

BOSTON Final plans have been announced for the fourth annual National Mentoring Month (NMM) campaign scheduled for January 2005. For the first time, this nationwide drive to recruit volunteer mentors for young people will target America’s 77 million baby boomers. The campaign’s message to boomers: “Share What You Know. Mentor A Child!”

MetLife Foundation has provided funding for NMM 2005 to support media outreach to baby boomers and retirees. Additional funding for NMM 2005 has been provided by MCJ Foundation.

The “first wave” of boomers will mark their milestone 60th birthday starting just over a year from now. Thanks to the longevity revolution, the average 60-year-old can expect to live to 83, and many will continue well into their 90s. The Harvard School of Public Health/MetLife Foundation Initiative on Retirement and Civic Engagement recently released a major report documenting an “unprecedented opportunity” on the horizon to mobilize millions of boomers as community volunteers as some of the demands of work and family that commanded their attention in mid-life recede. (The complete report is available online at www.ReinventingAging.org.)

Spokespersons for NMM 2005 include three members of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation: former Senator John Glenn, honorary chairman; football great Darrell Green, chairman; and baseball icon Cal Ripken, Jr. Each will appear in public service announcements produced by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and co-sponsored by HSPH, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership and USA Freedom Corps.

Several PSAs are aimed directly at baby boomers and retirees. A PSA featuring John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, opens with original footage from his two space shots, the first at age 40 and the second at age 77. "I don’t think people need to retire and just sit on the front porch and rock,” former Senator Glenn says in the PSA. “They’ve had a lifetime of experience. They can pass that on. There’s nothing like inspiring a young person in these areas of curiosity of their own, and a mentor can do that. It’s very important today for young people to have mentors in their lives. It’s life experience, and that’s what the young people lack. January is National Mentoring Month. So share what you know. Become a mentor."

Another highlight of NMM 2005 is breakthrough advertising aimed at younger adults, created by Trailer Park (Los Angeles) and News Corp. in collaboration with the Los Angeles Mentoring Partnership (LAMP) and the Harvard Mentoring Project. This project was spearheaded by Patrice Theard, executive director of LAMP, and Megan Chernin, Chairperson of LAMP and Member of the Board of Advisors of the Harvard Mentoring Project. This humorous PSA features a rapid-fire series of soundbites in which top celebrities share a special—or quirky—skill that they could teach to a young person. Celebrities appearing in the PSA include Jessica Alba, Don Cheadle, Roger Daltrey, Matt Damon, Jimmy Fallon, Andy Garcia, Ashton Kutcher, Tommy Lasorda, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jeffrey Tambor.

The CBS, FOX, and NBC television networks also will air mentoring PSAs, produced and sponsored by each network, featuring top actors from prime time shows: James Caan (Las Vegas, NBC), Dean Cain (Clubhouse, CBS), Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas, NBC), Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order, NBC), Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS), Marg Helgenberger (CSI, CBS), Kevin James (King of Queens, CBS), Bernie Mac (The Bernie Mac Show, FOX), Gail O'Grady (American Dreams, NBC), Donald Trump (The Apprentice, NBC), and Goran Visnjic (ER, NBC).

The official book for NMM 2005 is Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose In Life, by Eric Liu, which will be published in January by Random House. Guiding Lights tells the stories of life-changing mentors who guide their apprentices on a path of purpose and possibility. Mr. Liu will travel the country throughout January as a spokesperson for National Mentoring Month.

The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership jointly created National Mentoring Month, and are leading the NMM 2005 effort in collaboration with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Points of Light Foundation, and other nonprofit groups.

The campaign’s national media partners include CBS (Viacom), Fox (News Corp.), NBC (GE), Comcast, and Time Warner. The campaign has won the support and participation of numerous governors and mayors, as well as top Hollywood stars and athletes. The White House is participating through the USA Freedom Corps and the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation; the U.S. Department of Justice is participating through its National Mentoring Center.

In cities and states across the country, local organizations provide a local telephone number for prospective mentors to call during National Mentoring Month, and handle the referral of volunteers. These organizations include state and local mentoring partnerships (brought together under the umbrella of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership), and local Volunteer Centers (brought together under the umbrella of Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network). In many cities and towns, similar roles are played by affiliates of America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Communities In Schools, and United Way.

As a centerpiece of NMM 2005, Thank Your Mentor Day™ will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 25. On that day, many Americans will reach out to thank or honor those individuals who encouraged and guided them, and who had a lasting impact on their lives. The theme for Thank Your Mentor Day is “Who mentored you? Thank them…and pass it on!” The idea behind “Who mentored you?” is to help people connect to the importance of mentoring by encouraging them to think about individuals in their lives during their formative years—family members, teachers, coaches, neighbors, employers, friends—who encouraged them, showed them the ropes, and helped them become who they are today. The campaign’s message is that, today, too many young people do not get enough of that kind of support; mentoring programs can help fill the gap but need more volunteers.

Thank Your Mentor Day promotes “Three Ways to Honor your Mentor”:

  • Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  • “Pass it on” by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  • Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the campaign’s web site.

To support Thank Your Mentor Day, the campaign’s web site, www.WhoMentoredYou.org, will present video clips and written essays contributed by prominent individuals from various fields sharing recollections about important mentors from their childhood and young adult years. Contributors include Tom Brokaw (NBC News), the late Ray Charles, Deepak Chopra, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Antwone Fisher, former Senator John Glenn, Darrell Green, Gwen Ifill (PBS), Quincy Jones, Larry King (CNN), Sen. John McCain, Edward James Olmos, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Harold Prince, Cal Ripken, Jr., Bill Russell, Tim Russert (NBC News), Martin Sheen (West Wing, NBC), Mike Wallace (CBS News), and Oprah Winfrey. The web site also will provide access to on-line greeting cards, created for the campaign by Hallmark Cards, enabling people to reach out via e-mail to thank mentors who made significant contributions to their lives. And, the web site will promote the theme of “Pass it on!” and provide links to www.Mentoring.org, the web site of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, to access a data base of mentoring programs in communities across the country that currently need volunteers.

The campaign’s national nonprofit partners include: The Advertising Council, America’s Promise—The Alliance for Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, The Child Welfare League of America, Communities In Schools, Everybody Wins, The GRAMMY Foundation, Mentoring USA, National Association of Broadcasters, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network, and Save the Children.

For more information on NMM 2005, visit www.WhoMentoredYou.org.

Thank Your Mentor Day™ is a trademarked initiative of the Harvard School of Public Health.