The United Way of Allegheny County is intensifying its search for individuals who can mentor the region’s youth by guiding them on anything from career advice to dealing with having a parent in prison. The organization is in the second year of its three year commitment to the Be One in a Million Program.
The nationwide program is looking to recruit one million volunteer readers, tutors, and mentors to support youth from pre-school through college graduation. Locally, the United Way of Allegheny County has a goal of recruiting 4,000 volunteers.
“Our goal was set by simply determining the size of our population versus the national population and asking if we can do our share,” said United Way of Allegheny County President Bob Nelkin. “I think Pittsburgh, as usual, will be the showcase for the rest of the nation.”
The programs are run through the Youth Futures Commission (YFC), which is a group of public and private sector leaders from all levels working together on a plan to ensure opportunities for the region’s youth.
“Prevention of crime is more important than prosecution,” said David Hickton, U.S. Attorney of the Western District of Pennsylvania at a noontime rally in Market Square. “I am invested in YFC to prevent bad choices and encourage kids who are at risk to select the correct path.”
According to the United way, two-thirds of American fourth graders cannot read at grade level and more than one million students drop out of high school every year.
“We have so many children who are not succeeding in school. In some cases it is motivation, in other cases it is difficulties where they need the assistance of a tutor or somebody helping them.”