Paul Caccamo: A Vision for a National Mentoring Movement


I think that’s what the holidays are all about. Regardless of your faith, creed or belief system, this is a time of year when we all count our blessings and take a moment and reflect on a vision for a more just and peaceful world.

That is why I am writing to you today. I have a vision that I would like you to invest in. My vision is a nation where every child has an adult mentor in their life - a mentor they can turn to when they face challenges at home, in school, or in their community. My vision is that these mentors are trained to help children make healthy decisions so that they can avoid using drugs, joining gangs or dropping out of school. My vision is that all children - urban or rural, in blue or red states, black, brown or white - benefit from living in a country where these trained adult mentors are available in every community to help them live up to their potential.

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I have a strategy for achieving this vision. It starts with expanding our national mentoring movement to engage a new cadre of adults who inspire values and foster character in our youth. This new class of mentors needs to be adults who children trust, because without this trust, our young people will not listen to them. During the past decade, I have asked kids across the country if there were adults in their communities who they trust. I was surprised by what they said: whenever a kid played sports, they answered “my coach.” It didn’t matter to the kid what sport they played, it simply mattered to them that they had a coach who they knew was there when they needed advice. So, I decided that achieving my vision would require that we build a national workforce of coaches who are trained to teach life skills and foster positive youth development in every school, park and playground in the country.


It is a big goal. Thanks to support from our donors and AmeriCorps, a federal government agency that matches every dollar donated, I have already raised enough funding to develop more than 2,000 coaches in 350 urban communities in the past seven years. But as you can see, I have only scratched the surface.

I promise you that within a dozen miles of where you celebrate the upcoming holidays, there is a child who needs an adult mentor. I can also promise you that in many schools and parks, especially in low-income communities, there simply are not enough coaches trained to be mentors for kids who need them the most. That’s why I am asking you to help me achieve my vision of helping our kids. Your donation will enable me to hire, train and support a coach to mentor youth in an underserved community for an entire year.

Just think about the impact if I can support another 5,000 coaches in the next five years? If you are an athlete, you already know the power of your own coach. If you are a parent, you know the power of your child’s coach. And if you are a coach, you know the impact you can have by modeling the right behavior and mentoring young people.

Every day I hear the story of one of the kids inspired by our coaches. This past year, we celebrated our Coach of the Year who brought together a group of 20 immigrant girls who live in the South Bronx to play soccer. She taught them teamwork, focus and determination and led them to a first place finish in their league. These girls attend a school with a high dropout rate and a higher than average teen pregnancy rate. But despite the pressures working against them, these girls have confidence, focus, and discipline because they have a coach who is watching out for them.

If you believe in the power of coaching and if you believe in the importance of helping our youth, then please make a donation to Up2Us Sports. Your donation will help make my vision a reality.