The Missouri Mentoring Partnership (MMP) began as a demonstration project in 1993. The model was adapted from a nationally recognized program in San Diego, California administered by the Caring Foundation. That program brought the public and private sectors together in a joint venture to assist young people aging out of foster care. Their goal was to assist these young people in achieving self sufficiency by providing a positive work experience. The Missouri Mentoring Partnership Program began in the State of Missouri as collaboration between the Missouri Department of Social Services and Family Resource center in St. Louis. Missouri Mentoring Partnership is currently a state funded initiative through the Department of Social Services with 9 MMP sites across the state, each working under the basic premises of two components: Worksite Mentoring and Young Parent Mentoring. In 1998, MMP worksite program was established in Southwest Missouri. Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) managed the contract until May of 2002. In 2002, Missouri State University's School of Social Work obtained the contract from the Department of Social Services. In 1999, the Young Parent Program became a new component for MMP programs across the state, but Greene County did not begin the program until 2002 at Missouri State University.
MMP assists 16-21 year old youth who have experienced foster care, Division of Youth Services and Court supervision, or other difficult life challenges, to gain mentored, part time or full time employment opportunities. We equip these young people with the tools necessary to become self-sufficient through employment guided by a mentor. This overall experience can help lead to more lucrative employment opportunities for the youth in the future. MMP supports the youth completing their educational, personal, and employment goals. The program recruits area businesses (Corporate Partners) that agree to hire qualified youth candidates when there is a job opening and the company selects an employee to serve as their work place mentor. MMP provides job readiness training classes for youth to prepare them for their work experience. Monthly "Downtime" meetings are also offered. These meeting allow the youth an opportunity to meet other youth in their same situations and to learn more about the work force. MMP serves an average of 65 participants in the worksite program every year.
The Young Parent program assists young mothers and fathers who are 21 years of age and younger to develop parenting skills and match them with a caring adult mentor. Each young parent is matched with a trained community mentor who assists the young parent to develop effective parenting skills, maintain a healthy life, keep immunizations updated, and offer support and encouragement to reduce stress, stay in school, and take care of themselves and their children. Monthly support meetings are used to educate and encourage youth on issues relevant to them and their children. Participants and mentors make a one year commitment to the program. MMP serves an average of 25 parents in the young parent program every year.
With both components, education is highly encouraged for each and every youth. Mentors work closely with MMP staff to encourage each youth stay in school, obtain their diploma or GED, and pursue further education if the youth so chooses. Education allows the youth to gain knowledge to obtain better, more sustainable employment. MMP can assist youth with funds for some educational needs such as GED tests, ACT tests and college registration fees.