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Janet Jackson is singing praises of youth mentors

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Janet Jackson is singing the praises of mentoring.

Jackson, whose "Velvet Rope" tour kicks off Thursday in Washington, D.C., told about 100 youngsters at a Boys and Girls Club that mentoring kids is "an effort I strongly believe in." The youngsters screamed their approval.Jackson will donate part of the proceeds from her tour to "America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth," which provides mentoring opportunities for at-risk youth. Retired Gen. Colin Powell is the organization's chairman.

Jackson, who along with Powell read to a group of children, said she'll urge fans to get involved.