The football coaches at Iowa, Iowa State and U.N.I. are joining forces again this year to raise awareness about the need for youth mentors in the state. Adam Lounsbury, with Volunteer Iowa, says there are over 3,000 children in Iowa on a waiting list for a mentor.

“The idea of a mentor is to provide another positive role model in (a child’s) life,” Lounsbury says. “It’s estimated that over 50-percent of kids would very much benefit from having another caring adult in their life.” The football coaches in Iowa are taking part in what’s being called the “Coaches Mentoring Challenge.”

It’s a contest with coaches in Kansas and Nebraska to see which state can recruit the most new mentors between August 1 and November 30. Kansas won the challenge last year with over 4,000 new mentors. Iowa finished a close second.

“We had a goal of signing up 3,000…we had 3,832. So we blew away our goal,” Lounsbury said. The 2012 target in Iowa is to recruit 4,000 new mentors. Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, I.S.U. coach Paul Rhodes and U.N.I. coach Mark Farley are taking part in a number of initiatives to help recruit mentors.

That includes a letter, signed by the coaches, sent this week to high school football coaches. “It asks them to join the challenge and help promote this locally and sign folks up at local football games or help any way they can,” Lounsbury said.

“And as coaches, they know firsthand, the benefit of the positive role they’ve had in people’s lives.” Iowa has more than 80 certified youth mentoring programs. The winner of the Coaches Mentoring Challenge will be announced in early December.

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