Benefits of Mentoring

A mentor is a caring, adult friend who devotes time to a young person. Although mentors can fill any number of different roles, all mentors have the same goal in common: to help young people achieve their potential and discover their strengths.

Mentors should understand they are not meant to replace a parent, guardian or teacher. A mentor is not a disciplinarian or decision maker for a child. Instead, a mentor echoes the positive values and cultural heritage parents and guardians are teaching. A mentor is part of a team of caring adults.
 
A mentor's main purpose is to help a young person define individual goals and find ways to achieve them. Since the expectations of each child will vary, the mentor's job is to encourage the development of a flexible relationship that responds to both the mentor's and the young person's needs. 
 
By sharing fun activities and exposing a youth to new experiences, a mentor encourages positive choices, promotes high self-esteem, supports academic achievement, and introduces the young person to new ideas.
 
A mentor may help a young person:
  • Plan a project for school; 
  • Set career goals and start taking steps to realize them; 
  • Make healthy choices about day-to-day life, from food to exercise and beyond; and 
  • Think through a problem at home or school.
 
If you think you'd make a good mentor, great. We have lots of information about the many opportunities that are available. But you should be aware that it may take a while to be matched with a youth. Mentoring programs are concerned with the well being and safety of both youth and the volunteer mentors. 
 
In joining a formal mentoring program, you will probably be asked to go through an application process. As part of that process, you will need to supply personal and professional references, perhaps have a background check performed, and complete a personal interview. Also, remember that the role of a mentor comes with substantial responsibilities so you will be required to take part in an orientation and training. Throughout the duration of your mentoring relationship, be sure to seek support from the program coordinator.
 

Mentoring Settings

Each mentoring program is different. So are the locations and settings within which a mentoring relationship can develop. 
 
Mentors and young people may find that their relationship begins by participating in a variety of activities. Depending on the type of mentoring program — and the program's rules and regulations — a mentoring pair may go to the park or a museum, participate in sports or do some other activity where they can get to know each other better. Mentors and mentees might also meet at the child's school once a week where they could talk, play games or work on school assignments together. Take a look at some of the different settings where mentoring occurs. 
 

In the community

  • Community-based mentoring offers young people the chance to develop a relationship with one or more adults. 
  • Takes place outside of specific sites: going to the movies, going to a park, etc. 
  • Can include tutoring, career exploration, life skills development, game playing and going to sports, entertainment or cultural events. 
  • Typically asks the mentor for a commitment of at least one year. 
     

In schools

  • Mentoring in schools can have a significant impact on the dropout rate among high school students. 
  • Offers young people the chance to develop a relationship with one or more adults. 
  • Takes place at school, either during or immediately after school hours. 
  • Can include tutoring, game playing and sports. 
  • Typically asks the mentor for a commitment of at least one school year.
     

In the faith-based community

  • Faith-based mentoring has a long tradition of instilling spiritual values and moral strength, putting faith into practice. 
  • Offers young people the chance to develop a relationship with one or more adults. 
  • Takes place in a house of worship and reflects the values and beliefs of that religion. Typically occurs after school hours and/or on weekends. 
  • Can include career exploration, life skills development, game playing and going to sports, entertainment or cultural events. 
  • Can serve young people from the congregation and/or from the local community. 


In businesses

  • Today, more and more companies are starting mentoring programs to help the young people who live in the communities where the companies do business. 
  • Offers young people the chance to develop a relationship with one or more adults. 
  • Takes place at the work site. 
  • Can include tutoring, job shadowing, career exploration and role playing. 
  • Typically asks the mentor for a commitment of at least one school year. 
     

E-mentoring

  • E-mentoring takes place via the Internet and allows mentors and mentees to develop their relationship by exchanging messages online. 
  • Makes mentoring available to mentors and young people who otherwise might not be able to meet easily because of time or travel constraints. 
  • Helps young people learn more about high-tech communications and improve their writing skills. 
  • Offers young people the chance to develop a relationship with one or more adults. (Some programs have a group of adults who mentor a group of young people. For instance, a group of engineers might advise an entire classroom of students.) 
  • Offers young people a great way to find out about potential careers. 
  • Enables young people to work with mentors on special projects.