Stimulate the economy with mentoring

October 6, 2008
| By Roy Clark |
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As we challenge ourselves to think of new ways to get out of this economic mess, might I suggest mentoring as the stimulus package we provide for our community?

By mentoring, we invest and develop social equity in future generations. This will save our businesses money, lower our taxes and produce long-term residual results. How does it work? Every business owner, sales person, manager and laborer mentors a young person or adult for a minimum of one year.

One of the primary needs to help young people succeed is social equity. Statistics abound about how young people need connections with adults. As I had the privilege to sit in on the Mayor’s Youth Council report, I heard time and time again how young people want to have healthy adults in their lives.

Imagine this: Tom, a manager, has rearranged his priorities to spend one hour a week investing in Jason, a recent graduate from high school. For the most part, Tom will answer simple questions about how to apply for college or where to look for a job. But more importantly, he will be able to introduce Jason to some friends who might be able to employ him. Jason now has the social equity of Tom. Without it, Jason is going to have a tough time finding and retaining a job.

Investing to build social equity has many potential benefits to the economy.

First, for the mentor:

According to Corporate Mentoring Solutions Inc., those who mentor increase their productivity at work. It turns out that when people invest in others, they feel better about themselves and therefore get more work done.

Second, those who mentor, especially when the entire company gets behind the campaign, stay at their jobs longer, and we all know the power of employee retention.

For the mentored:

The impact of mentoring for the mentee is overwhelming positive but here are two economic benefits. First, the ability to secure a job more quickly and stay off welfare is increased a hundred times when a person is mentored.

Second, mentoring encourages the choices that keep individuals out of jail. If just 200 young people stay out of jail because they had mentors this year, we would save $2.5 million in taxes in Grand Rapids alone. Granted, mentoring doesn’t guarantee a young person won’t go to jail. But given the opportunity to find social equity within a healthy environment or not, young men and women will choose the better of the two.

Investing in our younger generation will provide the type of long-term equity that we can count on to reshape our communities and lead us into a more financially sound future.

We have all been given the same amount of time. Let’s invest it wisely.

Roy A. Clark is the founder of Mentor1. The organization’s mission is to advertise and recruit for mentoring organizations in West Michigan. Mentor1 is currently engaged in a campaign to recruit 2,000 men for 2010 who are willing to make a one-year commitment to mentoring at-risk youth. For more information, go to or call 447-8030.

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