It’s no surprise that, at AJLI, we often write about innovative programs and initiatives by individual Junior Leagues. We are naturally proud of all of the great things that our Leagues are doing, particularly in terms of addressing serious issues that impact at-risk women and children in our communities.

So it’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to see first hand what other organizations are doing to create lasting civic impact in their communities.

Take the Tampa Bay Academy of Hope, which will be the site of our Learning Journey for League members during AJLI’s Winter Leadership conference in Tampa (Jan. 19-21).

TBAH is a tremendous example of a community organization that runs youth mentoring programs tailored to specific needs – in this case – ensuring that kids of color are able to stay abreast of their academic programs while mentoring life goals and other skills sets (assisted by mentors who are also people of color).

Founded in 1996, TBAH provides tutoring, life skills management and employment and job placement opportunities as well as mentoring program. The objective is to positively and dramatically change the lives of the young people its programs touch. TBAH’s success in doing so can be seen from these two testimonials, taken from the organization’s website.

“I am 14 years old…I am the oldest of 3 siblings and live with my grandmother. My father is in prison. My mother is on drugs…I really have a problem with my anger. My grandmother sent me to Tampa Bay Academy of Hope last year. Since I have been at TBAH my grades have improved and I have not gotten suspended from school this year.”

“I never realized what I needed as a 17 year old black male! I am put through many trials and tribulations which I blamed on everyone else. Continuing my education has been one of my biggest obstacles. However, through Tampa Bay Academy of Hope I was graced with the opportunity to visit the many Universities and Colleges. Speaking with some of the students on campuses I was given helpful information and I got to see how it feels to live the college life. I realized that college gives me access to a different view of education and life itself. The visits and skills taught to me at TBAH helped me to build and refine my academic skills and focus on being successful so that I can help my mother.”

January is also National Mentoring Month. For more information about how you can become more involved personally as a youth mentor, go here, here or here.