Building Awareness during National Mentoring Month

Posted by Eric Bleier on January 10, 2012

January is recognized as National Mentoring Month. But for the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation, mentoring is considered a year-long endeavor.

Since its inception, the Grizzlies Foundation’s mission has been to get the local community involved in mentoring. And since they began recognizing National Mentoring Month in 2005, the Grizzlies Foundation has seen efforts grow exponentially.

“I think it has taken on more and more significance as the Memphis community has become more familiar with Grizzlies TEAM UP,” said Jenny Koltnow, executive director of the Grizzlies Foundation. “One of the more exciting things is people are recognizing the brand and mission, and they’re asking not only what can I do, but how can I get other people to do something.”

Grizzlies TEAM UP is the Grizzlies Foundation’s concentrated effort at getting both organizations and individuals involved in mentoring youth across the Memphis region.

Koltnow stresses that there is no one way to be a mentor. Every program has a different but important focus, from work and technology skills, to college prep and leadership development.

But the key is for people to give mentoring a chance.

“There are lots of opportunities out there,”  Koltnow said. “We run the Grizzlies Mentoring Alliance (previously named Memphis Mentoring Partnership) which represents upwards of 20 organizations and 50 unique opportunities to be a mentor. We can really be flexible and find opportunities that are going to work with anyone’s schedule and meet one’s interests and personal goals.”

“One person can make a difference. A difference in what a child does when they hit a fork in the road.  A difference in the way they see themselves and their future. Mentors can point kids in the right direction, help them make better choices and encourage them to seize the opportunities that come their way.”

As part of National Mentoring Month, the 2012 National Mentoring Summit will take place Jan. 24-25 in Washington, D.C.

On Jan. 26, which is “Thank Your Mentor Day,” The Commercial Appeal will print ‘Thank You’ letters from mentees to their mentors. Also that day, the Grizzlies foundation will host a TEAM UP Happy Hour, a recruitment event open to the public.

And Jan. 30 will be recognized as Grizzlies TEAM UP Mentoring Night when the Grizzlies host the San Antonio Spurs. That night will also feature a major announcement for TEAM UP.

“Grizzlies TEAM UP offers an opportunity for anyone to be a part of the Grizzlies team in a meaningful, rewarding way,” Koltnow said. ”If you’re not clear on what it is, what steps to take, you’re not going to get anywhere by just pondering the possibilities. Contact us. Spend some time on The entire community is invited to ‘team up’ with us.”

In addition to the visiting, you can also receive more information by calling 901. 205.TEAM (8326), or email at, or by completing an interest form to let the Foundation know you want to explore opportunities to be a mentor.


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The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation is committed to serving Memphis youth through education and mentoring.