Designing a Mentorship Program
Increased geographic mobility, the lack of organized youth activities in poor neighborhoods, and the essays helprise of single-parent families and families with two working parents have all reduced the number of adult role models. Today, twenty-five percent of children live with a single parent, and over one-half of children will live with only one parent before they are eighteen years old. Youth mentoring programs exist to provide these role models and help a child develop socially and emotionally. Mentors help kids learn to understand and communicate their feelings, to relate to their peers, develop relationships with other adults and stay in school essay writing.
We also know more about strategies that make youth mentoring programs work. This research is important, because ineffective mentoring programs can do real harm to adolescent youth. The following strategies are associated with successful mentoring: buy research paper online
Youth mentoring works best when goals focus on developing trusting relationships with peers and adults. Programs with solely behavioral goals, such as achieving better grades or resisting drug use, are less successful. Even one of the most successful mentoring programs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, has only a modest effect on grades and school attendance. Mentoring programs should try to help a child develop socially, because social skills benefit the child in other areas of his or her life.
Parental involvement is also a beneficial goal. If possible, mentoring programs should try to get parents involved in a way that does not threaten the youth-parent relationship.
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Programs should match mentors and youth on the basis of shared interests and youth, mentor, and family preference. There is no perfect method to matching a mentor and youth, but the age, gender, and education of the volunteer matter much less than his or her outlook on mentoring. Mentors who are “results-oriented” and have behavioral goals for children, such as quitting drinking, are less successful than “process-oriented” mentors who want to build trust and become a friend and confidant of a child.
The most successful mentor-youth relationships exist for at least a year, with meetings of at least an hour a week. The mentor should always assume he or she will initiate contact, because youth are not likely to initiate contact on their own.
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Mentoring sessions should involve structured activities, and mentors and youth should be equals in planning sessions. Social and academic activities, such as going to lunch, attending sporting events, or visiting museums, are best.
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Making Your Program Work
The Tutor/Mentor Connection, based in Chicago, draws from more than 35 years of experience leading a volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring program that connects inner city youth and workplace volunteers in one-on-one matches that often last 3 or more years. The organization has created an extensive web resource library that people from around the world draw from to support their own efforts. At this link you can see a diagram of the information we’re collecting.
Here are some ideas the organization encourages others to consider when discussing mentoring or tutoring.
Understand the needs of the community and the youth you are serving
- traditional mentoring focuses on middle school youth who have a single parent, and would benefit from contact with a caring adult mentor. Visit Mentoring.org
and you can find extensive information that can be used in starting programs that serve this population. The Tutor/Mentor Connection focuses on youth living in high concentrations of segregated, inner city poverty, where the most common role model is often an ex-convict, someone on welfare, or someone earning a living from illegal activities. In these neighborhoods, a tutor/mentor program expands the network of role models, mentors, tutors and advocates by recruiting volunteers who don’t live in poverty, and who hold a variety of different jobs and careers. Many of these volunteers are managers, professionals and have college and advanced college degrees. Such a network of adults can have an influence on the aspirations of youth and the decisions they make, and can expand the range of experiences and learning activities available to youth. Such programs need to be close enough to where youth live so they can attend regularly and in places convenient and safe for volunteers to attend regularly.
Think spatially. Use maps to assure a distribution of programs in all areas where they are needed.
Big cities, where poverty neighborhood size is measured in miles have different problems of access to youth than do smaller cities and towns where poor kids attend the same schools as all other kids, and where volunteers can go from work to school and back to work in a few minutes. In big cities, programs that operate in the after work and evening hours, can attract volunteers as they go from work to home. At the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Program in Chicago, more than 500 volunteers, from more than 100 different businesses in the Chicago region, attended sessions at the Wards inner city headquarters on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from September to May each year. Visit the T/MC Program Locator
to see an example of how maps can be used to help find locations of tutoring and/or mentoring programs, and to understand the distribution of programs in different high poverty neighborhoods of a city.
Mentoring,like raising a child, is a long term process.
It is not a quick fix. Clarify your goals. If you’re aim is to help a youth born in a high poverty neighborhood be starting a job/career by age 25, this could mean that your program needs to provide 20 years of consecutive support if it enrolls the youth starting in first grade. Mentoring is not like taking medicine to get over a cold. There is no specific does that changes the poverty surrounding a youth and instills him/her with a new set of aspirations and learning habits. Plan your program for continuous long term contact with the youth you mentor. Plan for a change in volunteers over this period of time. Visit this T/MC Concept Map
to see how we visualize a system with age-appropriate mentoring and extended learning, aimed at helping youth reach jobs and careers. Such a system needs business and industry involved as strategic partners.
Mentoring changes the volunteer, not just the youth. Because of the long-term goals of a tutor/mentor program, and the challenges of sustaining funding, and sustaining youth involvement, programs need to focus on changing what volunteers will do, not just what youth will do. Most volunteers join a mentoring program to spend time with a youth. Few join to build your web site, do your fund raising, or write your newsletter. Few see themselves as networkers, who share their weekly experiences with co-workers, friend and family in an on-going effort to draw more support to the work they are doing and the program they serve. Yet, if programs do not learn to turn some volunteers to leaders, few programs will never be able to sustain what they do as long as they need to do it.
Logo ContestsThese are a few of the concepts presented in the Tutor/Mentor Institute section of http://www.tutormentorconnection.org. We’ve created an on-line forum at http://tutormentorconnection.ning.com and invite others to join that site to help us flesh out these ideas and turn them into curriculum so we can educate a new cadre of leaders for the thousands of tutor/mentor programs that need to be operating in big city neighborhoods, and of the companies, law firms, hospitals and universities who need to be strategically involved in efforts that help mentor inner city kids to careers.
Mentoring as a Workforce Development Strategy
In reading about the various forms of mentoring, we begin to see that some forms of mentoring aim to apply social and emotional support to young people who may need an adult role model, but already live in a community where there are many supports to help that child succeed in school and move to a career. Other forms of mentoring, such as that proposed by Cabrini Connections and the Tutor/Mentor Connection view mentoring as part of a strategy of connecting youth living in high poverty neighborhoods of big cities with an extended adult support and learning network aimed at helping these youth succeed in school and be starting jobs by their mid 20’s.
Such a strategy draws on business volunteers to help build student aspirations, by modeling jobs and careers, and by helping youth, as parents and community members do in more affluent communities, build the skills and get the experiences and opportunities that lead more consistently to careers. Inthis Tutor/Mentor Connection concept map we visualize the age appropriate mentoring and learning that needs to be provided in high poverty areas of every large city. Inthis T/MC concept map we illustrate ways business might use its resources to support comprehensive mentoring programs in communities where it does business.
See more illustrated essays showing ways business and healthcare leaders can become strategically involved in supporting the growth of mentoring-to-career programs in inner city neighborhoods in the the Tutor/Mentor Institute section hosted by the Tutor/Mentor Connection.
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