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Southwest Key Mentorship Program Receives Much Needed Grant

SWKey Youth Mentor & Student

Austin, Texas (January 14, 2015) Southwest Key Youth Mentoring Program received a $1 million, federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention, an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant money will help Southwest Key’s Youth Mentoring Program expand its services to help more local youth ages 10-17 receive guidance from caring adults in five cities across the nation. The grant comes at a time when the nation is experiencing a shortage of volunteers.

Southwest Key’s Youth Mentoring program connects adults with youth who are involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system. January is national mentoring month and Southwest Key is utilizing its new resources to heavily recruit mentors across the nation, where there is a shortage of volunteers, especially men.

“It’s really awesome just to be able to be a kid again and be that influence in a younger kid’s life as they are growing up in their adolescent time,” says Gabriel Cruz-Letelier, volunteer mentor with Southwest Key. “You become a lending hand in their growth.”

Cruz-Letelier mentored Miguel for a year participating in activities such as fixing bikes at the Yellow Bike Project and bowling. Miguel, who had some delinquency issues, quickly went off probation due to Gabriel’s efforts to guide him through his mandatory community service hours. “It’s made me more of a positive person,” says Miguel, “and I would recommend it to other teens, whether they are troubled or not, because it’s a good program.”

The shortage of mentors across the nation has left many kids, particularly young men of color, with nowhere to turn.

“I really wanted to be a mentor just because I wanted to give back to the community and support our youth in the east Austin area,” says Cruz-Letelier.

“I would like to thank Gabriel for being there for me and I have confidence that when I am having a hard time, I can just ring him up and he would support me like he did the past year,” says Miguel.

Southwest Key is looking for volunteers to spend just four hours a month with a young person in need of guidance.

For more information, visit Southwest Key’s website.

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