Mentorship Program offers second chances

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Life after prison can be difficult, but there’s something that can help. The six-year-old Mentorship Program annually helps over 100 people in the Eugene and Springfield area integrate back into society after being behind bars. The coordinators believe that Lane has been an integral part of this process.

“It’s our best community resource,” Andrew Provencher, volunteer outreach coordinator, said. “It is not exactly an easy sell [finding mentors]. We will do a presentation somewhere and, frankly, I am happy if I get even one mentor. I’ve done presentations at LCC where we get four or five .”

The program works in reorienting former inmates back into society and in helping them find resources to support themselves.

Sponsors Incorporated was started in 1973, and spawned The Mentorship Program evolved from that organization, and started in 2010. The Second Chance Act, passed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, allocated $362 million to create opportunities like this.  

The Mentorship Program is a non-profit organization. There are no costs for participants, and once each mentor and mentee are paired together they stay together for a full year. Each matched pair receives $100 to spend on activities. The money is to help the mentors and mentees foster a better relationship with each other and to prevent any financial restrictions between them.

As a non-profit organization, Sponsors relies on outside money from the community to continue programs they have implemented. They believe that these opportunities benefit not only people coming out of prison or jail, but also better society as a whole.

“We do accept donations from community members and organizations,” Provencher said.

“We write a lot of grants at the federal level, state level, and county level.”

Mentees within this program often attend Lane, as in the case with some of the employees that are part of the Mentorship Program, Provencher said. The school provides a way for people to reorient and better themselves. Lane also provides help in other ways than just education.

This next year the mentorship will get a grant of $1 million for new projects being developed to help the mentees. Part of the new projects is the ability for the Mentorship Program to contact and create a match for a mentee while they are still in prison or jail to make the transition from release easier. The program is getting ready to start matching mentors with mentees this April.

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