- According to Florida TaxWatch, the state’s independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute & government watchdog, the Barbara Bush Foundation’s Teen Trendsetters™ mentor program is helping Florida’s children succeed inside and outside of the classroom. Not only is the program valuable to participants but taxpayers benefit via avoidance of social program costs and additional earnings generated from the potential increase in graduation rates.
“Teen Trendsetters is an excellent program for our youth. Not only does it promote learning gains in the classroom, it allows young people an opportunity to give back to their community and set the stage for a productive and fulfilling life,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Additionally, the program is valuable for taxpayers as it decreases the likelihood of program participants using social services or ending up behind bars.”
The program is an intensive reading strategy that promotes mentor and mentee achievement as well as parent involvement. The program pairs 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students that are, on average, a half year behind grade level in reading skills with teenage mentors between the 6th and 12th grades. In the 2015-2016 program year, 92 percent of senior mentors reported that they intend to graduate, and 79 percent stated that they plan to go to college (compared with a graduation rate of 80% across Florida and a 65% college matriculation rate). Additionally, 43 percent of all mentees improved their reading skills to grade level or above.
These learning gains don’t just affect the program mentors and mentees today – it also affects their future. It is estimated that the Teen Trendsetters program will result in $110,283,056.00 in collective additional lifetime income for senior mentors and mentees that attain on-grade level reading skills. Avoided welfare, prison, and health costs result in an estimated savings of $8,437,440.00. Together, additional income and cost avoidance results in a total impact of $118,720,496 for the 2015-16 program year.
The program is also a good investment for taxpayers. In 2015-2016, the TT program received $300,000 in state funding and the Barbara Bush Foundation provided $776,910 in private funding. For each dollar invested into the TT program, a conservative estimated return of $7.80 may be realized in the form of cost avoidance for the taxpayers.
“Programs like Teen Trendsetters are critical to ensuring our children have a bright future. Participants in these programs have consistently shown gains in their education while also garnering life skills that allow them to beat the odds and become successful contributors to their communities,” said Florida Coalition for Children CEO Kurt Kelly.
The full report can be read here