News Release – January 25, 2007

Reclaiming Futures launches campaign to recruit mentors for juvenile court teens

Project launches “When You Were 15” campaign on Thank Your Mentor Day™, part of National Mentoring Month

Portland, OR (Jan. 25, 2007) — Reclaiming Futures today is launching a campaign to encourage adults to become mentors for teens who are struggling with drugs, alcohol and crime.

“When You Were 15” is being launched on Thank Your Mentor Day, during National Mentoring Month. The campaign features celebrities and other adults in local communities who recall their own lives at 15 and the adults who helped them get through tough times. Community members are encouraged to log on to to read celebrity entries, write their own story, and find out how they can help teens in their community.

Ultimately, each community will publish an anthology of stories and pursue a media campaign to raise community awareness about the need for more mentors, especially for teens in the justice system.

Reclaiming Futures, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is committed to getting more help for teens in the justice system who have drug and alcohol problems. A key element of the Reclaiming Futures model is to involve more adults as positive role models in the lives of these teens.

“Most people can think back to a time in their teenage lives when they were having a tough time and recall one adult who had a particularly positive influence them,” said Laura Nissen, Reclaiming Futures national director. “Reclaiming Futures wants to encourage people to become a mentor or natural helper, or to provide opportunities for teens to engage in healthy, positive community and social activities.”

“When You Were 15” was successfully piloted in 2006 at Reclaiming Future’s site in Multnomah County in Portland, Oregon, where it recently received the Governor’s Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse Clark Campbell Award.

Sites launching the campaign today are Anchorage, Alaska; Southeastern Kentucky; and Seattle, Wash. Future launches are planned in Chicago, Ill.; Dayton, Ohio; Marquette, Mich. and the Lakota Reservation in Rosebud, South Dakota.

In Multnomah County, the campaign team published an anthology and produced radio spots, a Web site, posters, and bus ads to call attention to the need for mentors. The campaign materials include stories from local celebrities such as Art Alexakis of the rock band Everclear, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams, Portland Schools Superintendent Vicki Phillips and others. The campaign partners with Big Brothers/Big Sisters Northwest, Oregon Mentors, Powerhouse Mentoring Program and with Write Around Portland, a local arts program that provided a series of writing workshops for youth in juvenile detention, residential alcohol and drug abuse treatment and community service programs.

People interested in becoming a mentor or learning more about the campaign in their city can find more information at

About National Mentoring Month
National Mentoring Month is spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project, MENTOR and the Corporation for National and Community-Service. The first NMM was held in January 2002. Jan. 25 is Thank Your Mentor Day™ and is being honored with a variety of activities, described at

About Reclaiming Futures
Reclaiming Futures is a $21 million initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation located in Anchorage, Alaska.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; Chicago, Ill.; four counties in Southeastern Kentucky; Marquette, Mich.; the state of New Hampshire; the Lakota Reservation in Rosebud, South Dakota; Dayton, Ohio; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle, Wash. In its fifth year, an evaluation conducted by the Urban Institute and the University of Chicago indicates the program has significantly improved the quality of juvenile justice and substance abuse treatment services across the 10 communities. Reclaiming Futures is housed in the Graduate School of Social Work at Portland State University. To learn more, visit and