The power of mentorship forges New Pathways For Youth

At New Pathways For Youth young people in need receive one of the most vital of things from adults: Compassion. (Submitted photo)

For some of us, there are people who we encounter during the early years of life providing a pathway on the pursuit of happiness from behavior to achievement.

These people are oftentimes found amongst the hustle and bustle of the stress of our day-to-day lives, but once discovered the relationship can reshape the trajectory of one’s life.

Since the late 1980s New Pathways for Youth has been in the pursuit of putting the opportunities for these life-changing relationships for those who need it most.

“New Pathways for Youth was founded in 1989 to provide transformative and intensive mentoring services to 40 of the most at-risk youth living in the greater Phoenix community,” said New Pathways For Youth Corporate and Grants Manager Marlo Apple. “Today, we serve more than 400 youth annually who are experiencing poverty and four times the adversity of other youth adversities such as parent incarceration, abuse and neglect, substance abuse, and high school dropout.”

Based in the heart of the city of Phoenix the organization serves at-risk populations throughout the Valley of the Sun, Ms. Apple explains.

“Since 1989, we have grown by acquisition of other mentoring programs and have become a thought leader in intentional, effective mentoring programming,” she said.

At New Pathways For Youth the trajectory of lives is reshaped through the effort of local mentors. (Submitted photo)

“Through one to one mentoring in connected communities of youth and mentors and evidence-based personal development and life skills retreats and workshops, our youth create breakthroughs in self destructive thought patterns that lead to actions consistent with the future they want to become successful, independent adults, breaking the cycle of poverty and adversity for future generations.”

The overarching goal of New Pathways, Ms. Apple contends, is to provide youth who are living in poverty an opportunity to reach goals even themselves may believe to be unattainable.

“New Pathways for Youth’s mission is to empower youth to achieve their full potential through mentoring and life skill development,” she explained. “Our intentional program model is built on the principal that caring, stable relationships enable new possibilities for youth to occur. For the past 30 years, we have supported more than 6,500 youth in creating a new possibility for their future. Our program is anchored in intentional, evidence-based tools and practices that are coupled together to ultimately disrupt poverty in the lives of our youth.”

A real need

Over the past 30 years, New Pathways for Youth has served youth experiencing poverty and four times the adversity of other youth, with a majority of the young being of a minority.

For many of these children, officials at New Pathways say, they anticipate to drop out of high school, die young and participate in illegal activity to provide for themselves, and oftentimes their loved ones.

“New Pathways for Youth reaches outcomes with youth that lead to long-term results and well-being; creating as much as a 1:30 return on investment by preventing the need for future criminal and social services,” Ms. Apple says of the pay-it-forward mentality at New Pathways.

“At New Pathways for Youth, we take pride in creating evidence-based programs to help Phoenix’s highest risk youth. Evidence-based means our program is proven to be an effective intervention for youth experiencing poverty and adversity. For example, we know that cancer can be reversed by chemotherapy. So, most people chose a path of chemotherapy when facing a cancer diagnosis. And we know that mentorship reverses the cycle of poverty and adversity.”

Helping to achieve those positive outcomes is where the Scottsdale Charros have come into the picture as, through The Charro Foundation, they offered New Pathways a $5,000 grant this fiscal year to help their efforts.

“The investment we received from The Charro Foundation in the amount of $5,000 will support an evidence-based social/emotional/learning model for youth in our mentoring program who live in the Scottsdale area,” Ms. Apple said of the Charro contribution. “The facilitation of these life skill development workshops and retreats as referenced above, serves as part of a comprehensive three-pronged approach to ending the cycle of generational poverty in our community.”

Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins at the 31st Annual Outstanding Students & Educators Awards Banquet. (Submitted photo)

For 58 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.

“New Pathways serves youth who have the deck stacked against them,” said Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins. “They target those who have experienced more than their share of difficult circumstances and experiences. New Pathways intervention and mentoring programs are making a difference one youth at a time. New Pathways is a valuable resource to these at-risk individuals and to our community.”

For Mr. Robbins, the value of a mentor is immeasurable.

“The ability for anyone to have a mentor is priceless. It allows for the mentor to become an example in making good choices in life,” he said.

“A mentor provides support, feedback and guidance to youth that have been in difficult circumstances and may be prone to making poor choices. A mentor can develop a positive relationship and create trust so that youth can begin to improve goal setting and decision-making skills.”

Turns out, there are 180,000 children who live in the Phoenix metropolitan area who undergo adverse relationships and environment experts say will shape who they will become.

“Without intervention, these youth will repeat the cycle of poverty and adversity,” Ms. Apple points out. “We use data, research and experience to maximize the effectiveness of our programs. Our intervention positively impacts youth who are considered very high risk. We work with youth that other programs have given up on and empower them to create a new future.”

A view of mentorship in action at Phoenix-based New Pathways For Youth. (Submitted photo)

An approach for the future

The Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permenante released information outlining typical trauma experienced by American children.
Recently, the CDC and Kaiser Permenante released a report on interventions for youth that have experienced trauma.

“They identified the nine most harmful experiences and environments, from emotional abuse, to addiction to sexual abuse,” Ms. Apple said of the report. “New Pathways’ youth have experienced at least four of the CDC’s nine identified traumas. The CDC found the key thing that has a lasting impact on reversing the impact of childhood traumas is a stable, nurturing relationship with a caring adult. Our mentors are helping our youth gain the life skills to get their feet under them, the confidence to know their strengths and the support to know they are not alone.”

Ms. Apple says at New Pathways the group offers one-on-one mentoring that is making a difference.

“We train volunteer mentors to serve in a long-term relationship and we provide social-emotional, personal development and life skills curriculum through monthly workshops and retreats,” she said. “A powerful three-prong approach to ending poverty.”

Ms. Apple says New Pathways is focused on longterm success for those they serve.

“Our primary focus is ensuring youth outcomes, post-secondary academic and vocational success are achieved. Our decision-making process keeps youth success top of mind,” she said. “As a result, our youth are creating new possibilities for their future where: 95 percent of youth graduate high school and 90 percent go on to post-secondary education and training, 75 percent of which are the first in their family to do so.”

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Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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