Common Causes

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The best mentors let relationships grow at their own pace rather than impose rigid expectations and expect quick results, a new study suggests.

The study, which involved 82 pairs of adults and youngsters matched through Big Brothers/Big Sisters organizations, was conducted by Public/Private Ventures, a Philadelphia organization that studies youth issues.

Its findings suggest that the most durable relationships occurred when adults believed their main purpose was to offer support and held off on giving guidance until the child was receptive. The less successful mentors focused on getting youths to conform to adult expectations.

Copies of "Building Relationships with Youth in Program Settings: A Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters," are available for $5 each, prepaid, from Public/Private Ventures, 1 Commerce Square, 2005 Market St., Suite 900, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103; (215) 557-4400.

The School Community Journal has published a special spring issue that explores how changes in society, the family, and schooling have altered school-community relationships around the world. The issue, which contains research sponsored by the International Academy of Education, stresses that parents across cultures benefit when they understand how children's home environments affect learning. It also offers strategies to help parents be more effective partners.

The journal, published twice a year by the Academic Development Institute, focuses on how schools function as communities. For more information~, call or write the journal at 121 North Kickapoo St., Lincoln, Ill. 62656; (217) 732-6462.

The spring 1995 issue of The Future of Children, a journal published by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, focuses on low-birthweight babies. It includes articles analyzing the causes and costs and the role of science, medicine, and social factors in prevention. Although it recommends steps to address the problem, it also warns public-health advocates not to make undue claims about programs not equipped to alter national trends.

More information is available from the Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 300 Second St., Suite 102, Los Altos, Calif. 94022.

Religious institutions can make important contributions to community development, a new study shows. The study evaluated a Lily Endowment program designed to bolster the role of religious institutions in improving housing and spurring economic development in poor neighborhoods. All but one of 28 program-supported projects produced such tangible outcomes as new housing units or new businesses.

For more information on the report, "Better Together: Religious Institutions as Partners in Community-Based Development," call or write Rainbow Research Inc., 621 West Lake St., Minneapolis, Minn. 55408; (612) 824-0724.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno has announced the expansion of a program that offers free legal help for children and helps support school programs that teach children how to resolve conflicts.

Lawyers for Children was first launched as a pilot project in Hartford, Conn., using volunteer lawyers from the Aetna Life and Casualty Company.

Zoe Baird, a one-time nominee for attorney general who is now a senior vice president and the general counsel for Aetna, is heading up a private, nonprofit organization to expand Lawyers for Children. New programs have begun in the District of Columbia and Miami.

For more information, call Lesley Mara at (203) 273-2341 or Gary Frank at (203) 273-7665.

--Deborah L. Cohen

Vol. 14, Issue 41

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