PMA History

A small group of concerned business and community leaders created Denver Youth Program dba Metro Denver Partners in 1968 (originally incorporated as Partners, Inc.) to provide troubled youth with the guidance and support needed to become productive citizens. We were one of the first in the country to utilize trained volunteers to mentor high-risk youth involved in the juvenile justice system. With federal grant funding, we trained nearly 500 agencies across the country in how to implement our successful model during the '70's. By the 1980's, because of better understanding of the critical importance of fidelity, we developed "Standards of Accreditation" and required affiliates to adhere to these evidence-based programmatic and general-nonprofit best practices. In 1987, Partners organizations became separately incorporated, each its own 501(c)(3) organization. Partners, Inc., the parent organization, became known as Partners Mentoring Association. Each Partners affiliate has two representatives who serve on the Association Board of Directors. Currently, there are eight (8) affiliates providing mentoring services to at-risk youth in fifteen (15) Colorado counties. We continue to assess/peer review our mentoring services.

Since its inception, Partners has evolved to serve a broader spectrum of at-risk youth, not only those involved in the juvenile justice system. As part of our model, each affiliate assesses the needs in its community. Affiliates work closely with other youth agencies, such as school districts, human services, prevention collaborations and diversion programs in providing mentoring services. All youth are referred to the organization by youth agencies which deem the child at-risk. Some of these risk factors are parent substance abuse, low income, physical abuse, and chronic school problems.

The services provided by Partners affiliates are based on research and theoretical concepts that support the efficacy of mentoring. The Programs address risk factors that research shows impact positive social development. (Jessor and Jessor, 1977; Kumpfer and De Marsh, 1986) Also, research by Emy Werner indicated that one of the strongest protective factors for preventing youth substance abuse was the involvement of a positive significant other (besides a parent) in the child's life. The mentoring model is based on Bandura's social learning theory, which holds that positive and negative reinforcements for one's behavior, coupled with observing the behavior of others, provide the basis for how children learn to behave (1977 & 1991). Partners incorporates best practices in youth mentoring – mentoring relationships last at least 12 months, mentors have frequent contact with their mentees, mentors receive extensive staff support and mentors get to know their mentee's family. (Jekielek,, 2002)

Since 1998, PMA has contracted with OMNI Institute to provide evaluation services including survey design and protocols, data entry, analysis and reporting of progress towards achieving outcomes. All affiliates, as part of our accreditation standards, are required to participate in the evaluation. PMA has a Research and Evaluation Committee, comprised of representatives from the affiliates, which works closely with OMNI Institute in refining and improving our evaluation design. This committee also provides feedback to PMA regarding using the evaluation data in program planning.

In the mid 70s to early 80s we received the National Voluntary Activist Award from National Center for Voluntary Action, Meritous Service to the Children of America from National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Creative Program of the Year Award from National Association of Volunteers in Criminal Justice, National Model from President's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives, Exemplary Model Status from Center on Delinquency Prevention of University of Washington Law Center, and the National Model from National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

In the 90s we were awarded the Outstanding Substance Abuse Prevention Award (1991) from Governor Mike Callahan, Point of Light Recipient (1992), Noteworthy Programs and Practices Award (1991) from the Southwest Regional Center for Drug-free Schools and Communities. In 2008, we received an Honorary Proclamation by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., declaring June 21st Partners Day in recognition of our commitment to supporting at-risk youth.