President Obama Commends MENTOR and Viacom Partnership at White House Celebration of National Mentoring Month

Jan 20, 2010, 18:00 ET from Viacom

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- President Obama recognized the national mentoring partnership between MENTOR, the lead champion for youth mentoring in the United States, and Viacom Inc.(NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading media company, today at The White House.  The President applauded their strong commitment to America's children through their partnership to increase mentoring opportunities for youth across the United States in a ceremony in the East Wing that was attended by Larry Wright, PhD, President and CEO of MENTOR, and Philippe Dauman, President and CEO of Viacom, as well as mentors and mentees from around the country.

In talking about the partnership, the President said, "Corporations are stepping up, as well.  Viacom, for example, is working with a national nonprofit called MENTOR to provide flex time to employees who sign up to be mentors and to produce educational materials for mentoring organizations across the country."  

MENTOR and Viacom have formed a creative mentoring partnership called Get Connected: Be a Mentor, Change a Life.  The organizations chose National Mentoring Month to announce their partnership to honor the President and First Lady's unwavering commitment to mentoring and to shine a spotlight on the myriad of quality mentoring programs happening throughout the country.  Through Get Connected, Viacom will match its employees with students in the communities in which it operates, including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Nashville.  The Company will provide training for the volunteer mentors, who will make a long-term commitment to the program of at least one year.  The mentoring activities will focus on providing guidance and support in the areas of education, day-to-day living and career options.  MENTOR will serve as mentoring counsel and guide to ensure Viacom is executing first-rate, quality programming throughout the country and will provide the company and its volunteer employees with state-of-the-art mentoring tools and resources.  

Larry Wright said, "We are thrilled with the President and First Lady's support of mentoring.  We are also very impressed with Viacom's vision and corporate citizenship.  MENTOR and mentoring programs across the US serve more than three million children.  There are 17 million children who want and need mentors, leaving a gap of 14 million young people in need.  MENTOR serves as a catalyst to close that gap.  Viacom is a beacon of hope to those children and we are eager for other corporations to follow their lead."

Philippe Dauman said, "Viacom has a long history of employee activism in our communities.  With education being a priority area of focus among Viacom's numerous pro-social efforts, expanding our mentoring activities across the nation is a natural next step.  We know what a difference mentoring can make – that it can truly alter a young person's view of what the future may hold.  I know that with the expertise of MENTOR guiding our program, our employees' commitment and genuine compassion will have a profound impact on our mentees."

Research has proven that mentoring can help young people significantly by: improving their attitudes toward parents, peers and teachers; encouraging students to stay motivated and focused on their education; providing a positive way for young people to spend free time; helping them face daily challenges; and offering them opportunities to consider new career paths and get much-needed economic skills and knowledge.  

For more information on mentoring or how you can become a mentor in your community, log onto  


MENTOR is the lead champion for youth mentoring in the United States.  MENTOR helps children in need through building: a capacity of mentoring programs nationwide; quality for mentoring in general (through standards, cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art tools); and capital (MENTOR helps the mentoring movement raise funds to continue its critical work). MENTOR works closely with State Mentoring Partnerships and more than 5,000 mentoring programs and volunteer centers throughout the country, serving more than three million children in all 50 states.  There are currently 17 million children in the United States who want and need a mentor, but only 3 million have one.  MENTOR's mission is to close that gap so that every child in America has a caring adult in their life.  Founded in 1990, MENTOR is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

About Viacom

Viacom, consisting of BET Networks, MTV Networks and Paramount Pictures, is the world's leading entertainment content company.  It engages audiences on television, motion picture and digital platforms through many of the world's best known entertainment brands, including MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Nick Jr., COMEDY CENTRAL, Spike TV, TV Land, BET, Rock Band, AddictingGames, Atom, Neopets, Shockwave and Paramount Pictures.  Viacom's global reach includes approximately 170 channels and 400 online properties in more than 160 countries and territories.

For more information about Viacom and its businesses, visit

About National Mentoring Month

2010 marks the Ninth Annual Mentoring Month, a national campaign to recruit volunteer mentors spearheaded by The Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Held each January, the campaign highlights the crucial role played by mentors in helping young people achieve their potential.  General Colin L. Powell is headlining this year's campaign, with the theme, "Expand Your Universe. Mentor a Child." More than 50 nonprofit partner organizations around the country are participating.  The campaign's goals are to mobilize more community volunteers to mentor a young person and to increase knowledge about how mentoring can greatly enhance a young person's prospects for leading a healthy and productive life. Research shows that mentoring has beneficial and long-term effects on youth by increasing their chances of high school graduation and college attendance and decreasing the likelihood of substance abuse and other risky behaviors.