Allen has had multiple mentors in his life, from his father Keith Allen who was there for him from the start, to teachers along the way.
One teacher in particular who made a lasting impact was his fourth grade English teacher Mrs. Cunningham at Blairwood Elementary in Dayton, Ohio.
“She taught me how to write, how to be a better writer,” said Allen. “She taught me how to take my school work very serious. That helped through high school, even through college as I was taking English classes.
“I remembered and reflected on those moments and times when she was being tough on me and disciplining me, but also making writing fun.”
Allen is one of several Steelers who shared the story of who his mentor is with the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (MPSWPA) in celebration of January being National Mentoring Month.
But the importance of mentoring doesn’t stop there. While he has had great mentors, Allen is one himself. Through the Will Allen Foundation he developed the Quest for Real Life Success, an after school mentoring program set up to help students prepare for life after high school. The program places emphasis on test taking skills, resume writing, job interview skills and also stresses community service. It allows students to strive for goals outside of the everyday opportunities normally presented to them.
“You have the opportunity to help other people, inspire other people and pass down some knowledge and wisdom to your community, to younger people that has been given to you,” said Allen. “I never understood the aspect of giving your time to inspire people because of what you do. Once you get to know people and they see you as a normal person, not just a football player, you build a bond with them. It’s something that has always been deep in my heart.”
Allen has a strong relationship with the MPSWPA, serving as a keynote speaker in the past for their career day and spreading the important message of mentoring.
“Will Allen is a champion of mentoring who leads by example,” said Kristan Allen, Director of Marketing and Communications for MPSWPA. “He recognizes the positive impact mentors can have in the lives of young people and he doesn't just talk the talk...he walks the walk. He works hard to advance mentoring not only through his own Quest mentoring program, but also through his involvement with community organizations like ours. We're fortunate to have people in our region like Will Allen, who see mentoring as a valuable asset in supporting the success of our community and the future of its children.”