Design & Planning

Designing and Planning a Mentoring Program

You're ready to embark on the very important work of designing and planning the who, what, when, where and how of your mentoring program. By taking time to carefully think through all aspects of your program, you will ensure that you're able to effectively serve young people and sustain your efforts over the long term.

The program design and planning stage enables you to create a roadmap of how you will manage, operate and evaluate your mentoring program. Keep in mind that you can modify your plan as you go, when circumstances and experiences dictate. However, advance planning of how the program will be managed will assist you in adhering to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™—the mentoring sector’s evidence-based standards for program quality. 

For more detailed information, sample resources and tools, access How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program Using the Elements of Effective Practice (PDF) Tool Kit and our Resource and Publication Library.

Here is an overview of the areas that you need to work on as you design your mentoring program:

Start with the Need

Your decision to start a mentoring program stems from your belief that a need already exists for such a program. However, in order to gather the support you will need to launch a program, you must verify that the need actually exists.

Design the Parameters for Your Program

The program design phase helps you decide what youth populations to serve, what specific type of mentoring you want to use, what setting the matches will meet in, what type of school or organization to potentially partner with and what types of people to involve. You will also need to determine how you evaluate success for your program and identify case management protocol to ensure that your program staff provides regular support to mentors and mentees.

Plan How the Program will be Managed

During this phase, it is important to plan how you will manage your mentoring program. Areas of focus include: selecting a management team, establishing policies and procedures, implementing staff training and professional development, developing a financial plan for sustainability, implementing the program from A-Z (e.g., recruitment, screening, orientation and training, matching, match activities, ongoing support, recognition and match closure), as well as developing a plan to evaluate the impact and outcomes of your program.