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Democratic Senators Push for Critical Youth Mentoring Funding in Next Coronavirus Aid Package

“In response to COVID-19, mentoring programs and mentors have become even more instrumental in their support for young people and their families, helping them access essential services and connecting them to resources including medical services, food, and technology.”

[WASHINGTON, DC] – As Congress deliberates additional emergency aid to help Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tina Smith (D-MN) called on Senate leadership to ensure this includes at least $250 million in funding for youth mentoring programs. The Youth Mentoring Grant, managed by the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, provides funds for mentoring organizations serving millions of at-risk, high risk, and underserved youth across the country. Mentoring is an especially important resource during this pandemic, helping young people and their families access essential services, food, and technology. The senators emphasized that this funding would provide grant recipients with much-needed flexibility and additional resources as the organizations adjust services to meet the demands of those they serve during this national emergency.

“As we continue to practice physical distancing, mentoring programs are facing the technical and financial challenges of moving from in-person activities and services to those that are virtual,” the senators wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “Current recipients of the Youth Mentoring Grant will need the technical assistance, training, and technology to retool their existing programming to virtual platforms while, at the same time, maintaining quality relationships and ensuring youth safety. For many young people, these relationships may be the only consistent part of their lives at this time. In our holistic and evolving response to COVID-19, we must work together to help maintain and strengthen these important relationships.”

The full letter is available here.

Last week, Blumenthal led a group of 36 senators in calling for $120 million in Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations funding for the Youth Mentoring Grant in a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Jerry Moran and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen. That letter is available here.