United Way of Allegheny County’s “Be a Middle School Mentor” Program needs more volunteer adult mentors

The First Niagara Foundation has announced a  $1.0 million community commitment across four states, including Pennsylvania, to fund youth mentoring programs designed to help close the achievement gap, help children improve school attendance and performance, prevent substance abuse and behavioral problems, and give at risk youth a chance to reach their full potential.

In Western Pennsylvania, the regional banking and financial services company has re-committed its financial support as a lead corporate sponsor of United Way of Allegheny County’s nationally recognized “Be a Middle School Mentor” program. Now in its fifth year, the Pittsburgh-based mentoring program is an initiative of the Youth Futures Commission and managed by the United Way of Allegheny County in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Mentoring Partnership of Western Pennsylvania.

Increased student enrollment in the mentoring program by Pittsburgh Public School students in 12 city schools has created a need for more adult mentors to meet with students at their school locations each week through next May. Mentors commit one hour a week to their mentees to help them set career goals, be supportive and bolster eligibility for the Pittsburgh Promise secondary education scholarship program. Specifically, “Be a Middle School Mentor” needs 48 more adult mentors in order to meet the needs of more than 200 young people currently enrolled in the program. To sign up to be a mentor, and to learn more about “Be a Middle School Mentor,” visit www.beamiddleschoolmentor.org .

“First Niagara is committed to supporting this important mentoring initiative as it is proving to help young people shape their dreams through supportive interaction on a regular basis,” said Todd Moules, President of First Niagara Bank’s Western Pennsylvania operations. “Our local investment of $500,000 over the past four years represents on-going community collaboration among many partners who share the goal of encouraging public school students to improve their prospects for success. First Niagara will also add to the mentor pool with a new team of colleagues representing our philosophy that mentoring really does matter,” added Moules.

“After several years into this program, we know that mentoring matters because enrollment is increasing and our program is having a positive effect on the lives of middle school students,” said Damon Bethea, Mentoring Projects Director for the United Way of Allegheny County. “At a critical time in a young person’s life, the need for more volunteer mentors willing to give their time and guidance to a young person is greater than ever. We are grateful to First Niagara and other supporters who give of their time, talent and treasure,” added Bethea.

Why mentoring matters

Mentoring Matters is First Niagara’s charitable giving program that provides monetary and employee volunteer support to organized mentoring initiatives.  Established by the company in 2007, Mentoring Matters reinforces the importance of mentoring and the positive impact that it has on today’s young adults.  In 2009, First Niagara expanded the reach and impact of Mentoring Matters by launching its annual Day of Mentoring, offering young people the opportunity to spend a day with First Niagara volunteers to learn about financial literacy, work place awareness and enhanced life skills.

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 420 branches, $37 billion in assets, $27 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,800 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  For more information, visit www.firstniagara.com www.firstniagara.com.

About United Way of Allegheny County

United Way of Allegheny County is a change agent and efficient community fundraiser that improves lives by addressing critical community needs. By convening diverse partners and investing in programs and people to advance solutions, United Way creates long-lasting change and helps children and youth succeed, strengthens and supports families by promoting financial stability, ensures the safety and well-being of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities, and provides county-wide access to information and referral sources meeting basic needs.