Our mission is to increase the graduation rates and success of students enrolled in our public and charter high schools by pairing them with caring adult volunteers in enriched mentoring relationships that promote their personal, academic and career development. Our goal is high school graduation for our seniors, followed by enrollment in higher education, which recently has meant a new goal of helping 8th graders transition from middle to high school so that graduation actually becomes an opportunity.
Mentoring Road Map
The Mentoring Road Map is the centerpiece of our program. Mentoring, alone, is already a proven intervention to reduce risky behaviors and help youth stay in school. We use the Mentoring Road Map, a flexible, guided approach to the mentoring relationship with milestone goals which the mentor and protégé explore together; and enrichment activities which reinforce those milestone goals. We monitor student progress, identify the need for intervention, and report on important outcomes in our students' mentoring and academic journeys. When students and mentors meet for the first time at a match party, they begin planning the first 12 months (year) of their match, filling their plan with exploration in the areas below, while also adding outings based on hobbies they have in common, and Tribe Adventures. The first outing for new matches is the New Match Training, where matches complete their Mentoring Road Map Plan, and learn how to have a quality mentoring relationship.
- Milestone 1: Academic Planning – Clarify school expecta- ons, gradua on requirements, and monitor performance
- Milestone 2: College Exploration – Explore colleges, college life, requirements, majors, and the rela onship to personal interests
- Milestone 3: Career Exploration – Explore careers, job require- ments, career paths, and the rela onship to personal interests
- Milestone 4: Personal Development – Identify skills, habits, or goals for improvement or development during the year
Mentoring programs that match teens with adults with the expectation that any willing adult can be a mentor to any child in need, and that positive outcomes will result simply because a match was made, miss being informed by research and structured by best practices. Best practices mean students are matched with mentors that best meet their individual needs, interests, and personalities, promoting a quality, long-term match. Our legacy structure has been the foundation of our program for many years.
- Recruitment – We recruit students directly from classrooms, and mentors from corporate partners and other employers. We also gain students from family, school, and social service referrals; and mentors from online searches and referrals as well. Staff spend significant time providing education and outreach to advocate for mentoring in classrooms and in board rooms, to students and potential volunteers who may or may not decide to participate.
- Intake -- A large part of our success is due to the effort we spend with intake. All mentors are screened using applications, interviews, references, background checks, and training to ensure they are a good match for our program and can successfully support our students. Students are screened through applications, interviews, and parent-student orientations. There are no academic or social requirements, except that students must be enrolled in school, be motivated to participate, and be able to commit to a one-on-one relationship with an adult. Staff counsel students and parents, and make referrals to external services when required.
- Matching -- Pairs are matched by staff based on a number of factors including gender, shared interests, and personality compatibility. New pairs meet at the Mentors, Inc. office at a match party with other newly matched pairs, where they set goals for their mentoring relationship and agree on the activities they would like to experience together. After the match party, pairs begin meeting at least monthly face-to-face and maintaining weekly communication, and check in with program staff. Each teen that joins our program will have his or her own individual needs as the focus for their Mentoring Road Map journey. Compatible matching promotes quality mentoring relationships.
- Support -- Research shows that mentoring pairs that are left alone to build their relationships independently do not fare as well as monitored pairs. Ongoing case management and support – whether a match lasts one year or four years -- are unique features of the Mentors, Inc. mentoring model. After the match, our staff work hard to support and encourage our mentoring pairs so that our students and mentors have a successful and rewarding experience. Staff check-in with parents periodically to get their perspective on their teen’s progress, and make referrals to other community services as necessary.
Mentors, Inc. hosts activities that reinforce the Mentoring Road Map milestones around academic, college, career, and personal development, so mentoring matches don't have to make up activities on their own. Examples include:
- Assistance with school counselor meetings and academic interventions
- Career site visits featuring a variety of occupations for career exploration and development
- College tours for higher education exploration
- 9th Grade Jump Start summer program to prepare 8th graders for high school
- "Tribe" assignments for each student and their mentor for group Tribe Adventures (outings) with other matches
- Sporting and other donated event tickets to broaden cultural and social horizons
- Annual celebration for graduating seniors, students and their mentors, families, donors, and guests
- College scholarship application workshops and competitive scholarships for college-bound seniors
Students and mentors submit monthly online reports to share their progress with Mentoring Road Map milestones, and their mentoring relationship. Staff check in with matches to track match quality and progress; and the organization collects information on grades and attendance, to make sure teens are on track in mentoring and in school.
Helping all of our students stay in school and graduate is often the first step in closing the opportunity gap, and thus has been our mission since 1987.