Media Campaign Focuses National Attention on Mentoring Program for At-Risk Youths

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 website to search for mentoring opportunities in their areas nearly doubled from January 2002 to January 2003.