With the generous support of AT&T, State Street Corporation, and an anonymous donor, MENTOR launched the 2017 Summit Fellowship Program to provide a select number of scholarships to dedicated leaders from mentoring programs operating with a budget of $150,000 or less. In the Summit Fellows Spotlight series, the 2017 Fellows reflect on their experiences at the Summit and the lessons they’ve brought back to their local communities and programs.
Q: What is your program’s mission and how are you providing opportunities for youth through mentoring?
A: Ladies of Virtue’s mission is to instill purpose, passion, and perseverance in girls ages 9 to 18, while preparing them for college, their career, and to become change agents in their communities. We provide our girls with passionate and committed mentors, unique leadership opportunities, and character development to build the confidence they need to succeed in every area of their lives.
Launched in 2011, Ladies of Virtue has served over 1,000 girls through our signature Saturday Institute, in-school programs, and workshops to organizations across the city of Chicago. Furthermore, on January 11, 2017, Ladies of Virtue was recognized as a Gold Star Mentoring Program by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership for meeting or exceeding best practices across the six program areas.
Q: Why was it important for you to attend the National Mentoring Summit? How did you think attending might help you develop new skills or increase the capacity/impact of your organization? Reference any challenges you/your organization were facing that made Summit attendance especially appealing to you.
A: I felt that it was important for me to learn best practices from other Summit attendees and presenters to bring back to Ladies of Virtue. In addition, I was very excited to hear first-hand from business leaders about how they want to impact kids through mentoring. I also learned more about e-mentoring and plan to incorporate the lessons learned in our upcoming 2017-2018 program year.
Q: What was your favorite part of the National Mentoring Summit?
A: I was able to bring two Ladies of Virtue participants, Shalisa and Zakiyah, to Capitol Hill Day. They not only met Representative Robin Kelly and Representative Danny Davis, they also advocated for our mentoring program! This was an amazing experience for them. The girls learned more about advocacy and developed their public speaking skills as well.
Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?
A: The National Mentoring Summit was a wonderful experience! I brought back key learnings in the following areas: knowing when to expand, incorporating e-mentoring into our programming, mentoring girls of color, and utilizing current strategies in philanthropy.
Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?
A: At the end of the day, when we are more knowledgeable, the kids involved in our programs benefit. It is extremely important for mentoring practitioners to bring the latest best practices and trends back to their organizations. The funding for mentoring is more competitive than ever so mentor practitioners need to understand how to leverage their organization’s unique strengths, partner with other institutions, and incorporate technology to enhance efficiency. I was able to learn about this and more at the National Mentoring Summit.
Q: Share an anecdote or story related to your work or your time at the National Mentoring Summit.
A: Our Ladies of Virtue participants, Shalisa and Zakiyah, attended Capitol Hill Day with me and other mentor practitioners from Illinois. They did a phenomenal job speaking about how mentoring affected their lives in their meetings with Representative Robin Kelly and Representative Danny Davis. Shalisa mentioned that her mentor, Charla Travis, has helped to change her life by encouraging her to be better in school. Now Shalisa has a 3.0 GPA and she is more focused in school. In addition, this meeting led to Representative Robin Kelly’s Chief of Staff inviting me to an event she hosted in Chicago. Building these types of relationships with our politicians is so very important as we seek to make a broader impact in the communities we serve.
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