February 2004

Grant Results

SUMMARY

From 1998 to 2002, project staff at the Center for Health Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health mounted a national media campaign—the Harvard Mentoring Project—to recruit large numbers of qualified mentors to build supportive relationships with at-risk youth.

Research shows that a positive relationship with an adult mentor can steer a young person away from drugs, violence, dropping out of school and teen pregnancy. The challenge has been to recruit more qualified mentors.

Key Results
The campaign accomplished the following:

  • The campaign leveraged over $200 million in airtime and PSAs as well as dialogue in prime-time entertainment donated by the broadcast networks, Hollywood studios, cable channels and local affiliates.
  • The campaign won the support of two successive U.S. presidents, helping to establish mentoring as an important national priority.
  • During the campaign, the project generated more than 1 million telephone calls from people seeking information on mentoring programs in their own communities.
  • Findings from an informal survey suggested that approximately 20 percent of callers subsequently became mentors.
  • The number of people using the Web site to search for mentoring opportunities in their areas nearly doubled from January 2002 to January 2003.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $2,014,703 for the campaign (ID# 031159). After three years, the campaign shifted from a year-round media campaign to an annual National Mentoring Month. RWJF provided a grant of $490,000 to support the effort during this transition (ID# 040878).

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THE PROBLEM

Research shows that a positive relationship with a mentor can steer a young person away from drugs, violence, dropping out of school and teen pregnancy. In a 1995 landmark study conducted by Public/Private Ventures, researchers found that, compared to children without mentors, children with mentors were 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol; 53 percent less likely to skip school; and 33 percent less likely to engage in violence.

The challenge has been to recruit large numbers of qualified mentors. Project staff estimates that almost 17 million young people could benefit from a mentoring relationship, but that mentors served only 500,000 to 750,000 when the project began. While mentor relationships can happen naturally, many children need third parties to link them with adults interested in mentoring. Mentoring also requires various levels of background checks and training, based on the level of contact with young people.

To increase the number of mentors, the Harvard Mentoring Project used media strategies tested in two previous national media campaigns conducted by Harvard's Center for Health Communication. The center's Designated Driver Campaign, launched in 1988, broke new ground when TV writers agreed to insert drunk driving prevention messages into scripts of top-rated television programs.

Supported by millions of dollars worth of public service announcements and dialogue in entertainment programming, donated by networks, Hollywood studios and cable networks, the campaign was instrumental in establishing "the driver does not drink" as a social norm and by 1993 had contributed to a 30 percent decline in annual fatalities from drinking and driving.

Using similar strategies, the center's Squash It! The Youth Violence Prevention Campaign, launched in 1994, encouraged young people to walk away from confrontations without fighting. A 1997 national survey of African-American teens, the campaign's primary target group, found that 72 percent of respondents were aware of the campaign and 58 percent had used the phrase "Squash It" to disengage from potentially violent confrontations.

While working on the Squash It! Campaign, Center for Health Communication staff heard from young people of the critical importance of having responsible adults in their lives. At about the same time, Public/Private Ventures published a landmark study demonstrating the substantial impact of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program on positive youth development. Center staff made a strategic decision at that point to shift from a "walk away" message to a positive "walk-up-to" one by developing a major initiative to recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth.

With an initial grant from the MCJ Foundation, the center launched the Harvard Mentoring Project in 1997. Prior to RWJF funding, the project had recruited the major television networks to participate in the campaign.

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RWJF STRATEGY

These grants support RWJF's strategic goal of enhancing the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. The project grew out of the 1997 President's Summit on America's Future, for which RWJF provided partial support through grant ID# 030843. At the summit, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford and Mrs. Reagan representing her husband joined 30 governors, 100 mayors and scores of corporate leaders and others in calling American citizens to volunteer their time to address the nation's problems—with a special emphasis on service aimed at America's children. General Colin Powell chaired the summit, and Jay Winsten, Ph.D., director of the Center for Health Communication, head of the Harvard Mentoring Project, and associate dean at Harvard University School of Public Health co-chaired its national media task force.

To sustain the momentum from the summit, Powell agreed to head up a new national nonprofit, America's Promise: The Alliance for Youth. This organization aimed to help young people gain access to five fundamental resources for a healthy life: an ongoing relationship with a caring adult, safe and structured after-school activities, a healthy start, an education that teaches a marketable skill, and opportunities to give back through community service. Powell and philanthropist Raymond Chambers asked Winsten to take the lead in promoting mentoring through the national media.

In addition to this project, RWJF provided grants for a number of projects aimed at fulfilling the goals laid out by America's Promise. These included a project that developed a media campaign, Insure Kids Now!, with an 800 number, to find and enroll eligible children into Medicaid and other state aid programs (See Grant Results on ID# 033929), and a project that helped local schools connect with corporations, foundations and government agencies in addressing problems affecting at-risk youth (see Grant Results on ID# 033994).

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THE PROJECT

The Harvard Mentoring Project sought to recruit large numbers of qualified mentors who would build sustained relationships with at-risk youth who could benefit from additional attention, guidance and support. Applying social marketing strategies and mobilizing the power of mass communication, the project aimed to:

  1. Foster a social norm that encourages mentoring as a means of caring about and giving back to young people in order to help them reach their potential.
  2. Motivate individual adults to become mentors.
  3. Motivate corporations, organizations and institutions to sponsor mentoring programs and to recruit their employees/members as mentors.
  4. Establish National Mentoring Month as a way to institutionalize the nation's commitment to mentoring long term.

From 1998 to 2001 (Grant ID# 031159), project staff spearheaded a national media campaign in collaboration with leading communication companies, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership and other nonprofit groups (see Appendix 1 for list of participating organizations). Harvard provided strategic direction and coordinated all media efforts. MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, a leading advocate for the expansion of mentoring, coordinated national and local fulfillment and the involvement of other nonprofit organizations.

The project first developed a communications strategy to increase awareness of mentoring and then switched tack to promote National Mentoring Month

Communications/Public Awareness Strategy

The Project used a three-pronged communication strategy consisting of advertising, entertainment programming and news and public affairs.

  • Advertising. The Project promoted mentoring through broadcast public service announcements (PSAs), print ads, billboards and posters. The four major broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC—produced and sponsored PSAs as part of their individual network-sponsored public service campaigns and aired them frequently in non-pre-emptible positions. The Mentoring Project produced its own PSAs for distribution to the 45 cable channels; in 1998, HBO produced six PSAs at its own expense for the project. The Advertising Council, America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth and Save the Children also produced mentoring PSAs for national and local broadcasting. A Boston-based ad agency produced print ads pro bono, which were sponsored by America's Promise and the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and distributed to print media outlets around the country. Full-page ads ran in the New York Times 20 times between 1999 and 2001, in space donated by the newspaper. All the PSAs and print ads carried the Web address of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, www.mentoring.org, and/or a toll-free telephone number, so that individuals could get information on mentoring programs that needed volunteers in their own communities.
  • Entertainment Programming. Project staff met regularly with Hollywood producers and writers to encourage them to depict mentoring relationships in prime-time episodes to reinforce the impact of the PSAs. Story lines dealing with mentoring appeared in Any Day Now (Lifetime), Becker (CBS), Caroline in the City (NBC), Dawson's Creek (WB), ER (NBC), Family Matters (ABC), High Incident (ABC), Judging Amy (CBS), Just Shoot Me (NBC), King of Queens (CBS), News Radio (NBC), Providence (NBC), Sister Sister (WB), Spin City (ABC), Steve Harvey Show (WB), The Corner (HBO miniseries) and Veronica's Closet (NBC). A poster developed by the project was displayed on the stage sets of Becker (CBS), Drew Carey (ABC), ER (NBC), Friends (NBC), Judging Amy (CBS), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC), Norm (ABC) and West Wing (NBC).
  • News and Public Affairs. Project staff educated the White House about the importance of mentoring. As a result, President Clinton referred to mentoring in each of three State of the Union addresses. (This has continued under President George W. Bush.) The White House also recognized the contributions of media and nonprofits to the mentoring movement in a February 1999 event in the East Room. Several national news/public affairs shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show, and major network affiliates in Miami and Orlando, Fla., enlisted the Harvard Mentoring Project's help in producing programs on mentoring. The NBC affiliate in Washington ran a yearlong campaign profiling community groups that provide mentors.

Establishing National Mentoring Month

Anticipating that the impact of a year-round public awareness campaign would wane over time, project staff began in 2001 to lay the groundwork for a National Mentoring Month, which would focus national and local media attention on mentoring during January of each year. The annual event, endorsed by White House proclamation and Congressional resolutions, would help to establish a long-term commitment to mentoring and energize and empower community and statewide mentoring initiatives. RWJF provided funds for the transition of the project from a year-round campaign to a one-month-a-year event (ID# 040878).

To establish National Mentoring Month, project staff again recruited national media organizations to donate airtime, top television producers and communications companies to create television, print and radio ads and national nonprofit groups to help promote mentoring. The Harvard Mentoring Project invited MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership to serve as its lead partner in developing National Mentoring Month. Other participating organizations included America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Points of Light Foundation. See Appendix 1 for list of participating media organizations, nonprofits and government agencies.

During this phase, the project focused special attention on developing the capacity of state and local mentoring programs. In more than 40 states and cities, local partnerships of mentoring programs convened a steering committee of community leaders; created an action plan for National Mentoring Month; secured media commitments in their market; provided a local telephone number for prospective mentors to call; responded to inquiries from the public; and referred prospective volunteers to appropriate mentoring agencies. In many of the largest media markets, a single television network affiliate served as the local lead TV partner for National Mentoring Month, and sponsored a month-long, stationwide, on-air campaign in collaboration with the campaign's local lead nonprofit partner.

To help local media outlets participate in National Mentoring Month, the Project collaborated with the National Association of Broadcasters to create Working with the Media: A Guide for Local Broadcasters (see the Bibliography for details). The guide includes background information on mentoring and examples of successful station-sponsored campaigns.

For the 2002 National Mentoring Month, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 34-cent "Mentoring A Child" postage stamp; 125 million stamps were printed. The project also created a special national advertising initiative, "Who mentored you?," to encourage the public to think about individuals in their own lives who had offered them guidance, showed them the ropes and helped them become who they are today. The campaign urged people to say "Thank You" to those mentors and then to "pass it on" by becoming a mentor. A special Web site created for the campaign featured video and audio clips and written commentary from prominent people discussing important mentors in their own lives and links to information about mentoring programs in local communities around the country that needed volunteers. (The "Who Mentored You?" initiative continued during the 2003 and 2004 National Mentoring Months.)

Throughout the initiative, project staff of the Harvard Mentoring Project worked with and received guidance from a Mentoring Media Working Group, made up of some 50 representatives of media groups, national nonprofits and local mentoring organizations (see Appendix 2 for list of members).

Other Funding

In addition to RWJF funding, the project received $221,000 from the MCJ Foundation early in the project. Several other advertising agencies and communications professionals also made in-kind contributions. (See Appendix 3 for full list of in-kind donors.)

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RESULTS

The campaign accomplished the following:

  • The campaign leveraged over $200 million in airtime from broadcast networks, cable channels and local affiliates. The New York Times donated an estimated $2 million in full-page ad space.
  • The campaign won the support of two successive U.S. presidents (Clinton and Bush), helping to establish mentoring as an important national priority.
  • Over the course of the campaign, the project helped to generate more than 1 million telephone calls from people seeking information on mentoring programs in their own communities, according to the project director.
  • Findings from an informal survey of about 200 persons who had contacted a local mentoring group suggested that approximately 20 percent of callers had become mentors. Given that individuals must be screened and receive training to become mentors, this was considered a good conversion rate, according to the project director. There was no formal evaluation to determine what proportion of the 1 million callers went on to become mentors.
  • The number of visits to www.mentoring.org, the Web site of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, increased during the campaign. In January 2003, there were 52,941 unique visitors to the site, compared to 39,047 in January 2002. In addition, the number of people who used the Web site to search for mentoring opportunities in their area nearly doubled, from 22,176 in January 2002 to 42,443 in January 2003.
  • Mention of mentoring in the press steadily increased during the campaign. A search of the archives of the Washington Post found that the term "mentor" appeared in a headline once every two weeks in 2000, compared to once a month in 1999 and, in 1995, once during the entire year.

Communications

Center for Health Communication staff presented the Harvard Mentoring Project media strategy at about 10 regional or national meetings, including a White House event on mentoring in February 1999. The project received significant national and local media coverage including on "NBC Nightly News" and in the New York Times. See the Bibliography for details.

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. To institutionalize an annual media effort, secure both national and local support from a variety of sectors. The project's efforts to create solid partnerships with nonprofit groups, government agencies, broadcast networks and Hollywood writers and producers were key to the successful implementation of the Harvard Mentoring Project and to the launch of National Mentoring Month. (Project Director)
  2. Maintaining an automated telephone response system requires constant oversight. Project staff worked closely and regularly with staff of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, which was responsible for maintaining the system, to make sure information was accurate and up-to-date. (Project Director)
  3. It is difficult to quantify the actual impact of some media campaigns. Because phone call referrals filtered down to hundreds of local mentoring organizations, the project could not determine how many callers actually became mentors. Project staff had to depend on a small informal survey, which may be unreliable, to estimate the impact of the campaign. (Project Director)

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AFTER THE GRANT

RWJF turned down the center's request for funding for its annual National Mentoring Month campaign, citing shifting priorities at RWJF. The center continues the annual campaign, with major funding through 2003 from MetLife Foundation and additional support from the MCJ Foundation.

To strengthen the capacity of local nonprofits to organize their own public awareness campaigns, the center produced case studies of successful projects (available for "members only" at www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/wmy) and hosts regular conference calls in which representatives of state and local partner organizations share ideas and best practices.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

The Harvard Mentoring Project

Grantee

Harvard University School of Public Health (Boston,  MA)

  • The Harvard Mentoring Project
    Amount: $ 2,014,703
    Dates: February 1998 to November 2001
    ID#:  031159

  • Transition of the Harvard Mentoring Project
    Amount: $ 490,000
    Dates: November 2001 to December 2002
    ID#:  040878

Contact

Jay A. Winsten, Ph.D.
(617) 432-1038
jwinsten@hsph.harvard.edu

Web Site

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/chc/harvard-mentoring-project
http://www.mentoring.org
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/wmy

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Participating Organizations: Harvard Mentoring Project and National Mentoring Month Campaign

National Nonprofit Partners

  • Advertising Council
  • America's Promise—Alliance for Youth
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
  • Communities In Schools
  • Mentoring USA
  • National Association of Broadcasters
  • National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
  • Partnership for a Drug-Free America
  • Points of Light Foundation
  • Save the Children
  • United Way

Government Partners

  • U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • U.S. Department of Justice

National Media Partners

  • AOL Time Warner
  • Walt Disney Company (owner of ABC)
  • Viacom (owner of CBS)
  • News Corp. (owner of Fox)
  • General Electric (owner of NBC)
  • Washington Post Company (owner of Newsweek)
  • New York Times Company


Appendix 2

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Mentoring Media Working Group, 2000

Carolyn Assa
Director, Public Service Outreach
ABC
New York, N.Y.

Michelle Boas
Director of Corporate Affairs and Affiliate Public Relations
HBO
New York, N.Y.

Viola Bostic
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
Philadelphia, Penn.

Georgia Bushman
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Save the Children
Westport, Conn.

Laurie Byrne
Editorial Supervisor, Corporate Communications
ABC
New York, N.Y.

Sean Clarkin
Director of Creative Development
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
New York, N.Y.

Mei Cobb
Senior Vice President, Volunteer Center Development
Points of Light Foundation
Washington, D.C.

Susan Daniels
Vice President of Account Services
KGA Advertising
Middletown, Conn.

Liz Erickson
Manager, U.S. Programs
Save the Children
Princeton, N.J.

Donna Feiner
Senior Vice President
Advertising Council
New York, N.Y.

Steve Friedman
Vice President, Public Affairs
MTV
New York, N.Y.

Christine Chambers Gilfillan
President
MCJ Foundation
Morristown, N.J.

Patricia Goodrich
Executive Director
Nets Foundation
East Rutherford, N.J.

Jill Goodwin
Director of Marketing
Hospitality Business Alliance
Chicago, Ill.

Tara Greco
Director of Marketing
America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth
Alexandria, Va.

Jason Haikara
Vice President, On-Air Planning and Marketing Administration
Fox Broadcasting Company
Los Angeles, Calif.

Susan Haspel
Vice President, Community Relations and Public Affairs
NBC
New York, N.Y.

Jill Herzog
Executive Vice President
Social & Health Services, Ltd.
Rockville, Md.

Linda Bernstein Jasper
Communications Associate
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Princeton, N.J.

Kevin Kase
Director of Public Outreach
America's Promise—The Alliance for Youth
Alexandria, Va.

Denise Keyes
Director of Advertising and Promotions
Points of Light Foundation
Washington, D.C.

Jennifer Livengood
Vice President, National Campaigns
National Association of Broadcasters
Washington, D.C.

Kristen Mainzer
Manager of Public Responsibility
MTV
New York, N.Y.

Matthew Margo
Vice President, Program Practices
CBS
New York, N.Y.

Susan Mason
Vice President of Communications
National Mentoring Partnership
Alexandria, Va.

Ellen McKenna
Program Practices
CBS
New York, N.Y.

Andy Mecca
Executive Director
California Health Research Foundation
Tiburon, Calif.

Terri Mendoza
Director, Health Information
Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

Valna Montgomery
Manager, Your Time—Their Future
Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Rockville, Md.

Floyd Morris, Jr.
Senior Program Officer
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Princeton, N.J.

Susan Moses
Deputy Director
Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

Kevin Mulcahy
Recruiting Manager
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
New York, N.Y.

Ellen Nash
Vice President, Communications
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
Chicago, Ill.

Susan Patrick
President, Drugs Don't Work
Connecticut Mentoring Partnership
Hartford, Conn.

George Perlov
Senior Vice President, Planning and Research
Advertising Council
New York, N.Y.

Scott Peterson
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Washington, D.C.

Richard Plepler
Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
HBO
New York, N.Y.

Edward Remsen
President and CEO
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Jersey
Newark, N.J.

Jennifer Rose
Manager, Community Relations
NBC
New York, N.Y.

Janet Sharma
Executive Director
Volunteer Center of Bergen County
Hackensack, N.J.

Kathleen Shepherd
Vice President, Production & Public Affairs
WB-11—WPIX
New York, N.Y.

Diane Sherman
Associate Vice President, Public Affairs and Communication
Save the Children
Westport, Conn.

Suzanne Spero
Executive Director
MCJ Foundation
Morristown, N.J.

Angel Spyrou
Communications Manager
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
Chicago, Ill.

Doria Steedman
Executive Vice President, Director of Creative Development
Partnership for a Drug-Free America
New York, N.Y.

Mary Strasser
Vice President, Community Impact
United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Penn.

Walteen Grady Truly
Sex Equity Coordinator
New York City Board of Education
New York, N.Y.

Susan G. Weinberger
President
Mentor Consulting Group
Norwalk, Conn.

Jeff Wiedner
Project Manager, Information and Training Services
National Mentoring Partnership
Alexandria, Va.

Jay Winsten
Associate Dean and Frank Stanton Center Director
Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health
Boston, Mass.

Steve Zaricki
Vice President, State and Local Partnerships
National Mentoring Partnership
Louisville, Ky.


Appendix 3

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

In-Kind Donors to the Harvard Mentoring Project

National Mentoring Month

  • The advertising agency Margeotes/Fertitta and Partners collaborated with HBO to create a series of print ads, with photographer Sante D'Orazio donating his services.
  • The advertising agency Sticky Grey created a series of outdoor and print ads.
  • Graphic artist Milton Glaser created the 2003 National Mentoring Month logo.
  • ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC television networks produced TV PSAs.
  • Viacom Outdoor donated billboards in the New York City area in January 2002 and 2003.
  • The New York Times donated full-page ads in collaboration with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America to run during January 2002 and 2003.
  • HBO (AOL Time Warner) produced national ads, with Tom Fontana (executive producer, Oz) donating his services as director and executive producer.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Reports

Mentoring: A Guide for Local Broadcasters, Washington: National Association of Broadcasters and the Harvard Mentoring Project, 2000. Also available online.

National Mentoring Month: January 2002—Working with the Media: A Guide for Nonprofits. Washington: National Association of Broadcasters and the Harvard Mentoring Project, 2001.

World Wide Web Sites

www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/chc/harvard-mentoring-project provides information about the Harvard Mentoring Project, with links to local mentoring opportunities. Boston: Harvard Mentoring Project, Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health.

www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/wmy, launched in 2002 as part of the 2003 National Mentoring Month, features videotape, audio and written interviews with celebrities about the adult mentors who have influenced their lives. Staff of state and local nonprofits participating in the campaign may also read case studies of "best practices" at the "members only" section on this site. Boston: Harvard Mentoring Project, Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health.

www.mentoring.org allows those interested in mentoring to find referrals in their local communities. Alexandria, VA: MENTOR/the National Mentoring Partnership.

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Report prepared by: Kelsey Menehan
Reviewed by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Floyd Morris

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