NEWARK, NJ — A push is underway to expand mentorships available to Newark's school-aged youth. 

MENTOR NEWARK launched the campaign at Walker House last week around a new catchphrase, #NewarkisMentorCity, which celebrates mentoring organizations and honors Newark for being a place where mentoring is celebrated.

“We are making sure young people all over city have no doubt that there’s mentoring programs for them,” said Thomas Owens, MENTOR NEWARK executive director.

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MENTOR NEWARK is a network which provides training, professional development and support services to those seeking to serve Newark youth through mentoring. It currently has a network of about 25 mentoring organizations throughout the city.

Newark School Superintendent Roger León discussed the school system’s one-year strategic plan, “NPS Clarity 2020,” which calls to develop a district-wide plan for one-to-one student mentoring and tracking.

One of the ultimate goals, León said, is to assign every city student a mentor during their later years in high school. The student will work with the mentor until they land a career, either after high school or college.

León said he appreciates and fully supports the work of MENTOR NEWARK.

Owens seeks to accelerate and improve the organization’s work. He hopes to accomplish this through close ties with the National Mentoring Partnership to deliver students the resources and connections they need.

David Shapiro, MENTOR national CEO, said Newark is a city small enough yet cutting edge enough to make such a promise real for every child. 

"Thomas is a visionary leader running one of our affiliates and backbones,” Shapiro said. "Every part of this community is in this room right now.”

"It only matters if we show up for each other; promises are empty. Mentoring relationships are no different than business relationships and national or local relationships.”

Shapiro made a promise to help Newark become a city of mentoring. 

Owens said the campaign will achieve its goal in three parts:

Celebrate - applaud the people doing the work

Accelerate work closely with mentoring organizations to improve the work and increase followup and finally,

collaborate, meaning MENTOR NEWARK will challenge funders, donors and mentoring organizations to step up their game.

“We will step up our game, too,” he said.

More concretely, Owens challenged every mentoring organization involved to double its size in the next two years and build their profiles to do the work measurably better.

“On. Sept. 27,  I lost my dad, my guy, my mentor,” Owens said. “This organization embraced me and looked out for me."

“Every work that I do is a tribute to Charles Owens,” he said, with the audience cheering.