About Route 21
Route 21 is a unique seven year mentoring program serving both the youth and the young adult mentor. We honestly believe it is going to be the best mentoring model in the country for youth aging out of the foster care system. The mission of Route 21 is to find young adults who grew up in foster care to be paid and supported to mentor youth currently in care. The name Route 21 harkens the famous interstate Route 66 and underscores the road theme and the image of an elevated on-ramp for youth to merge onto the freeway of adulthood and connection.
Youth in foster care have the lowest high school graduation rates of almost any demographic in the country. Higher than any race and even higher than homeless youth. Youth in foster care graduate high school at about 55% nationally and 51% here in Washington state compared to 84% of non foster youth.1
Since 2012, Rick and Rebecca Newell founded, built up, raised up new leadership and handed off the very successful mentoring program called M.U.S.T. (Mentoring Urban Student and Teens – mentoringisamust.org). M.U.S.T. finds black males in college and pairs them with the most vulnerable black males in Seattle public high schools. It is a six-year mentoring program with outstanding outcomes. The outcomes for M.U.S.T. are outstanding. Seattle Public Schools graduates 67% of their black males. M.U.S.T. only serves the most vulnerable black males and 73% of M.U.S.T youth are on track to graduate. That statistic should level off in the low 80s%. Black males graduate college at 37%. M.U.S.T. mentors are on track to graduate at 79% and that should level off in the low 80s% as well. The M.U.S.T. mentoring model is working very well and Rick and Rebecca now want to bring a similar model to youth in foster care.
Route 21 will follow the same basic model as M.U.S.T., with a few distinct differences. Instead of pairing youth and young adults of the same race, Route 21 will pair youth with mentors who also spent time in the foster care system as the near-peer element of the mentoring match. M.U.S.T. works because youth can relate so well to their mentors. Their mentors are the same race and with similar interests. Route 21 mentees will be able to relate to their mentors, not because of race, but because they both share some of the same experiences related to foster care. Youth will be able to see someone ahead of themselves and think, “If he/she can do it… so can I!”
The Route 21 mentoring model is a premium mentoring model and we are laser-focused on achieving results for a very vulnerable population. One youth aging out of foster care unattached will cost society $625,000 on average over the course of their lifetime in expenses related to the justice system, welfare, healthcare… etc.2 Advancing a youth from dropout to high school graduate or even some level of college benefits society greatly