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PRESS RELEASE

January 27, 2003

Contact: Elizabeth Hirst
(850) 488-5394

Governor Bush Announces 2nd Annual National Mentor Month

TALLAHASSEE — In celebration of the second annual National Mentoring Month, Governor Jeb Bush today announced a 20 percent increase in one-on-one mentoring for the 2002 school year. There are currently more than 135,000 adults serving as mentors to Florida’s youth.

In 1999, when Governor Bush and Lt. Governor Frank Brogan announced the Mentoring Initiative, they set a goal to recruit 200,000 mentors in the state of Florida. According to this year’s Governor’s Mentoring Initiative Prevalence study, 90,552 adults are serving as mentors in a one-on-one mentoring relationship, with an additional 44,481 serving as mentors in a group-mentoring setting, through statewide programs such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

“Florida’s students should know that their communities are committed to helping them succeed. Mentoring is an important way to show that commitment,” said Governor Bush. “If every child in Florida knew that there was a caring adult with the highest of expectations at their side, I believe we would have children whose educational goals would skyrocket.”

Governor Bush also announced the opening of the Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentor Program application process. Due to the success of the current Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentors, the Governor has called for the program’s implementation in all of Florida’s high schools over the next four years. Since the program began last June, the 30 students selected as Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentors have recruited more than 250 high school students to serve as reading mentors to third grade students in Florida’s elementary schools. The Teen Trendsetters program is a partnership with the Governor’s Office, Florida Trend and Florida Trend’s NEXT magazine. Teen Trendsetters Reading Mentors are selected through a competitive essay process. Once selected, the Trendsetters will receive training from the Department of Education on using effective mentoring skills based on the newest research in reading. Students interested in becoming Teen Trendsetters should visit www.floridanext.com or www.flamentoring.org for more information.

Governor Bush was joined today by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, chairman of the Governor’s Municipal Mentoring Initiative, which was kicked off last year at the first National Mentoring Month press conference. Mayor Baker announced that within the first year of operation, 60 of Florida’s municipalities have joined the Mentoring Initiative and have implemented policies allowing their employees to take one hour per week administrative leave to serve as a mentor in a local school. The Governor’s Municipal Mentoring Initiative is a partnership with the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Institute for Government, which held regional trainings throughout the state to promote and develop municipal involvement.

Governor Bush was also joined by Arto Woodley, executive director, Frontline Outreach, who discussed the newest aspect of the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative: an effort to encourage faith-based institutions of all denominations to join the mentoring movement. Frontline Outreach will work with an advisory group made up of representatives from a variety of faiths and areas of the state to oversee the project. Strict guidelines will be put in place to ensure that the focus of the project is strictly to assist students with academic assistance. Faith-based organizations which become involved in the program and meet the criteria of at least ten mentors will be recognized as Faith-Based Organizations of Promise by America’s Promise, General Colin Powell’s national initiative to strengthen the character and competence of youth.

Joining the Governor for today’s announcements were his mentee Burgess Brown, an eighth grader at Raa Middle School in Tallahassee, Mark Farr, senior director of Faith Partnerships for America’s Promise, Lynda Keever, publisher, Florida Trend Magazine, Kevin Bakewell, senior vice-president, AAASouth, Maureen Cestari, marketing director, Comcast Cable, Scott Ellington, chairman, Governor’s Family Literacy Initiative, Gwynn Virostek, senior vice-president, Washington Mutual, Sarah Cox, Leon County Teen Trendsetters, Marcus Christian, president, Take Stock in Children, Lois Gracey, director, Communities in Schools, Pam Woulard, director, Florida Association of Partners in Education, Margaret McGauley, director, Guardian Ad Litem, Jack Kane, president, Boys & Girls Clubs, Judi Miller, president, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and other representatives from mentoring groups from across the state.

For more information on becoming a mentor, contact the Governor’s Mentoring Initiative at 1-800-825-3786 or visit www.flamentoring.org