Mentor Talks About the Power of Mentoring
What's Mentoring All About?
Does a Mentor Do?
Should I Mentor?
I Make a Good Mentor?
Do I Find a Program That's Right For Me?
What's mentoring all about? What do you give, and what do
Mentoring is about:
helping youth to succeed
the importance of ensuring that youth are connected with
positive role models
individuals who care about others and volunteer to establish
a trusting relationship with young people
a deliberate relationship with modest time requirements
a comprehensive screening and training process with successful
do mentors do with youth?
Mentors are caring adultsthey do not have to have
a background in teaching or youth development to be a good
mentor. They just have to care and be good listeners, offering
support and encouragement.
and youth can decide together what they are going to do each
time they meet. Some ideas:
a book together
flying a kite
playing basketball in the gymnasium and discussing the latest
working on an arts and crafts project
working on the computer
writing a resume
reading the want ads
learning a musical instrument
studying a foreign language
discussing career options or plans for after high school
should I mentor? What do I give, and what do I get?
people who are matched with mentors benefit greatly. They
improve their attitudes
increase their interest in staying in school
improve relationships with peers and families
are less likely to get involved in drugs and alcohol abuse
and delinquint behavior
benefits the mentors as much if not more than the mentees.
Mentors report that they
learn more about themselves
improve their own values
get a fresh perspective on their lives
feel more satisfied
is a sound investment in our future. Mentoring pays off.
Will you make a good mentor? Questions to ask yourself.
There are many qualities that good mentors possess. Yet two
stand out as being more important than the rest.
first is a commitment of time.
other quality is patience.
If a mentor makes a time commitment to a youth, it is important
to keep that agreement. When a reliable mentor shows up
when they are supposed to, you are providing youth with
the consistency and dependability that is often lacking
in their lives. "No shows" are not allowed. Yet
mentoring is flexible and programs have built in procedures
to notify youth when a mentor is unable to make a scheduled
meeting and vice versa.
Often a mentor eagerly wants to observe dramatic results overnight
in a youth as a result of their involvement and efforts. But
it sometimes takes much longer than overnight to begin to
see positive results. Patience is a virtue in mentoring!
addition to commitment of time and patience, good mentors
agree to on-going training and support from program staff.
confidential in all matters relating to their mentee
good communication skills
do not interfere with program policies and procedures
have a good sense of humor
programs today follow quality guidelines, standards of excellence
in mentoring. Each prospective mentor goes through a selection
process in order to be chosen for this worthwhile and honored
role. It includes, at a minimum, completion of an application
to become a mentor, employment reference checks, an inquiry
about a mentor's interests, character reference and a criminal
background check. Some programs require proof of outstanding
driving records and a check with the child abuse registry.
These procedures begin a process to match interested individuals
with youth who are waiting for your support.
Q: Finding a program that's "right"
for you. Questions to ask a program representative.
The majority of urban, suburban and rural communities in the
United States have at least one if not more mentoring programs
that have been established to benefit youth. Most likely you
will have some choices. You can find out where these organizations
exist by checking out www.mentoring.org,
the website of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. This
website also maintains a database of over 2,000 local mentoring
programs; you can enter your zip code to view information
about programs in your community that currently need volunteers.
can also find information about mentoring programs near you
by checking with your local United Way or Chamber of Commerce.
Five hundred Volunteer Centers are also available across the
country to assist you; to find the one nearest to you, visit
the website of the Points of Light Foundation.
choosing a program that's right for you, make sure that it
provides strong management and supervision. Here are some
questions to ask the program representative before making
your final decision:
Where does the mentoring take place?
You may be able to select from settings such as at a workplace,
school, faith-based setting, and juvenile correction facility,
community setting or e-mentoring, as examples.
What is the required time commitment for the mentoring?
Some programs require one hour each week or four hours per
month whereas other programs may suggest several hours each
week. Further, what is the length of the commitment?
types of mentoring does the program offer?
For example, there is the traditional one to one mentoring
but also group, peer and e-mentoring in some communities.
does the program operate?
You will want to know about timeliness of response to your
application and eligibility requirements of mentors, which
include screening procedures. All programs that are effective
and ensure maximum protection for mentors and youth must
require a written application, reference checks, criminal
background checks and a face-to-face interview.
kind of initial training and on-going training and support
does the program offer? What materials can I expect to receive
to assist me in my mentoring?
No mentor should ever have to work with youth in a vacuum.
Help should always be available when necessary. Initially,
the first training session before a mentor is matched with
youth is a time for mentors to learn about program policies
and procedures, how to build self esteem in youth, issues
around confidentiality, mandated reporting of abuses, gift
giving, resources available to assist mentors, physical
contact, how to resolve conflicts and many tips on what
to do during each session. On-going support should include
frequent opportunities for mentors to meet with staff in
small groups to discuss any issues or concerns and receive
are mentors and mentees matched? Is it based on common interests,
same gender, or what other criteria? What is the age of
the mentee with whom I will be working? Do I have choices
in that regard?
closure steps will be available in case I need to end the
This could be for a number of reasons that include job
transfers, personal and health issues or changing needs
of the mentee.
long can I expect between when I actually sign up and complete
the application process and I am matched with a youth?
is the program evaluated to measure expected outcomes?
you have other questions about becoming a mentor, you can
contact Dr. Mentor directly at DrMentor@aol.com,
or visit the Mentor
Consulting Group website.
To access a database of mentoring programs
in your community that need volunteers, visit MENTOR's web
Back to top