Young people who have been neglected and abused, live in neighborhoods and communities where every day their hopes get crushed by circumstance, and look at the world as an unfriendly and even hostile or violent adversary generally resign themselves to a lifetime of poverty, escapism by drugs and alcohol, unemployment and underemployment, gang participation and incarceration. Many drop out of school. While such a lifestyle accounts for the degradation and devaluing of a person, it is just as debilitating and costly to the community:
- According to the Underage Drinking Enforcement Center, underage (ages 12-20) drinking costs the United States over $68 billion per year;
- The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics counts 7.3 million adults on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole; over $70 billion per year is spent on corrections alone;
- According to research by the National High School Center, a high school drop out earns only 37 cents for every dollar earned by an individual with at least a high school degree; and
- A report from The Campaign for Education Equity notes that the combined income and tax losses for one cohort of 18-year-olds that drop out are $192 billion, approximately 1.6% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mentoring is a successful and cost-effective intervention with an outstanding rate of success. For example, 98% of all youth mentored complete their high school education. That alone raises their employability, income and subsequently, and ability to support and strengthen the economy, rather than become a drain on it. And the cost is only $1,500 per mentored youth per year. As noted in the chart, it costs 20 times more for a youth to receive drug/alcohol treatment in a single year and over 130 times for a youth in the juvenile justice system than it does to mentor.