Mentorship is an invaluable practice that takes place between two participatory individuals—a mentor and a mentee. There are countless mentorship organizations that exist. Most of these mentorship organizations focus on an adult mentor and a teenager or young adult mentee.
Why Does Mentoring Matter?
A mentor can impart wisdom, knowledge, skills and support to their mentee. A mentor can show a mentee that they are not alone and that someone truly cares about them outside their immediate family. A mentor can help navigate day-to-day challenges in a social, professional, or personal environment. Research verifies the legitimacy of mentorship. A good quality mentoring relationships can have a lasting, positive impact on the mentee. Research shows that young adults who were at risk for falling off track but had a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions. Additionally, 90% of young adults who were at-risk for falling off track but had a mentor are interesting in becoming a mentor—leading to a positive cycle of change.
In an educational setting, mentorship can be especially effective. Studies show that students who meet regularly with their mentors are 37% less likely to skip class and 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school. Additionally, mentored students have shown to maintain a better attitude towards school in general.
In a personal environment, mentorship is still incredibly powerful. In one study, it was found that mentored youth are 46% less likely than their peer to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. Another study showed that, “Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are: 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who do not”. Also, mentoring organizations and practices promote positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth have been found to communicate and trust their parents more than non-mentored youth.
Lastly, mentoring can have a lasting impact on the professional lives of young adults. In a paper entitled Mentoring: At the crossroads of education, business and community, it was found that, “the human potential lost as a result of the educational achievement gap is the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession”. Mentors can prepare their mentees for their future careers by helping them set career goals, develop professional interrelational skills, and practice interviewing and job seeking practices. Mentors can also expose them to contacts within different industry networks, assist them in finding an internship, and connect them with different resources available within a given industry.
Unfortunately, however, 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. Fortunately, there are countless organizations that are trying to change that statistic.
3 Mentoring Organizations
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is one of the most prominent mentoring organizations throughout the United States. It was founded in 1904, making it one of the oldest mentoring organizations still running today. It currently operates in all 50 states and in 13 different countries. The organization is comprised of “bigs” who are mentors that volunteer and “littles” who are children that willingly participate.
Another mentoring organization is The Mentoring Project. Their website states, “In the United States, there are 25 million youth growing up fatherless. This is a personal tragedy and a collective epidemic. Children from fatherless homes are more likely to drop out of school, join gangs, become teenage parents, and try drugs. The fatherless story is not ending well.” The Mentoring Project is a national organization that operates in Portland, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Orange County, Vancouver, Chicago, Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Redding, Miama and dozens of other cities. The Mentoring Project has created an in-depth guide to becoming a mentor called the “Mentor Field Guide”.
Women and Youth Supporting Each Other or WYSE is another national mentoring organization. WYSE operates as both group and one-on-one mentoring between college-age women and middle school girls. The WYSE mentorship program is available at colleges throughout the nation including Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of Central Florida, University of Chicago, Tulane University, New York University, George Washington University, and Marquette University.
There are numerous organizations that exist and there are new ones forming all the time. To find a mentorship organization, search on mentoring.org. Many organizations need and are actively seeking mentors to volunteer.
Choosing a Mentorship Program
If you are interested in joining a mentorship organization, it is important to make sure you are volunteering with a healthy, well-equipped organization. There are several ways to assess whether or not a mentorship organization is being operated effectively by asking the following questions: Is mentorship central to this organization’s mission? Is the governing body (i.e. board, etc.) invested in the mentoring program? Does the organization have strong partnerships with schools or other youth recruitment processes? Does the mentorship have proper resources and funding? Does the mentorship program have a physical space to house operations and activities? Is there staff within the program to assist with any issues? If the answer to all of these questions isn’t yes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the mentorship opportunities are not worth pursuing. However, the larger investment the organization is making in mentorship, the more likely you will be ale to have a sustained, healthy relationship with your mentee.
How to Be An Effective Mentor
Once you have decided to become and mentor and found the right mentoring organization for you, it is important to consider what it takes to be a good mentor. Firstly, a good mentor is supportive. The most important part about being a mentor is building trust with your mentee and showing them that you care about them. By being a supportive figure in their life, you can help them foster positive values and habits. Secondly, a good mentor listens. A good mentor does not talk about him or herself at great length, micromanage, or constantly give advice. Instead, a good mentor listens firsts and speaks last. A good mentor is able to listen actively when their mentee is experiencing struggles or obstacles in their life. In doing so, the mentor builds trust and shows that what the mentee has to say really matters to them. Lastly, a good mentor shows genuine interest in their mentee’s life. It is not just enough to listen when a mentee speaks. Often, it takes a good amount of time for a mentee to open up. So it is important that the mentor is proactive in asking questions and showing interest in the inner workings of the mentee’s life.
Mentorship is not only incredibly valuable for the mentee as stated earlier, but it also provides so many positive benefits for the mentor as well. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving.