Mentoring makes a difference

Help students go to college by supporting this worthy program

The author teaches writing at Butte College and is a freelance writer, editor, tutor and social-media consultant.

“I never thought I’d be a leader—because of this class, I am that leader.” “My confidence has improved greatly.” “I want to be a leader who’s responsible and dedicated to my goals, and I’ll do that by making my own choices and not letting people make choices for me.” “This program has taught me to believe in myself and not give up on my goals no matter how difficult the situation is.”

These are words written by just a few of the students who have completed programs facilitated by the Junior Leadership Development Program (JLDP), founded three years ago by Jacob Peterson. JLDP offers education and mentoring to at-risk teens in Butte County, assisting them in graduating from high school and creating solid post-secondary paths as well as supporting them in becoming community leaders. To date, the program has helped high school juniors and seniors at the Table Mountain School and Fair View High School and will expand next year.

According to the Mentor Research Foundation, a student who meets regularly with a caring adult mentor is five times more likely to graduate from high school. This is especially important in Butte County, where the high school dropout rate is high (9.2 percent). JLDP is distinctive as a mentoring program because it provides in-depth training to its mentors.

Peterson, the program’s director, knows what it’s like to be a child in a disadvantaged situation—that was his experience while growing up in Roseville (see “Giving back,” Newslines, May 29, 2014). What changed Peterson’s life was that a mentor came along and helped him gain the confidence to apply to and complete college—something he thought he’d never do.

JLDP recently secured a downtown office space above Naked Lounge on Second Street. This office will be used not only for administrative activities, but also to provide additional help to at-risk youth. But the program needs help to sustain its efforts helping local kids have hope. This entirely grassroots organization is particularly worthy of community assistance because it’s helping teens who may not have the support system needed to graduate and pursue higher education.

The organization has a fundraising event on April 24—a spring gala dinner-dance that will include music by the Jeff Pershing Band along with considerable other fun. Businesses and organizations are invited to become table sponsors for this event. Tickets are available online at For more information about JLDP, please visit its Facebook page or website,