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: Trinity River Mission (TRM) strives to encourage academic success and develop effective life skills among the youth we serve. Our mentoring program provides students with opportunities to develop their character, prepare for post-secondary education and careers, while also building healthy, open, and long-lasting relationships with their mentors.
Q: Why was it important for you to attend the National Mentoring Summit?
A: Prior to my attendance at this year’s Summit, no other employee at TRM had ever participated, so I knew that being there would be of extreme importance to our mentoring program and the youth we serve. Moreover, I was confident that attending the Summit would assist me in further developing skills in program evaluation and ongoing training for mentors—both areas which have been a challenge for our program. The Summit did not disappoint, and I left equipped with resources to successfully take on these challenges and more.
Q: What was your favorite part of the Summit?
A: My favorite part of the Summit was hearing the real stories of mentees and mentors whose lives have been changed by the overwhelming power of true mentorship. From Alyssa and Ali from EY’s College MAP program to The Gentlemen of Vision out of St. Louis, Missouri, the undeniable impact of youth mentoring is empowering for all who dare to embark on the journey.
Q: What learnings from the Summit have you brought back to your organization?
A: While at the Summit, I gained an abundance of resources and knowledge to improve upon the great work our mentoring program is already doing. However, the top three things that I brought back to my organization are tools to improve program evaluation, ongoing training for mentors, and consistent match support.
Q: Why do you feel it is important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?
A: Supporting and providing mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities is of the utmost importance because these opportunities directly impact the quality of service provided to youth. Without opportunities to grow and connect with other mentoring professionals, practitioners become stagnant, and as a result programming inevitably follows the same trend.
Q: What inspires you to stay committed to providing young people with mentoring relationships?
A: The stories of our students inspire me every day. Here’s just one example: A student approaches and adamantly asks for a mentor. Unfortunately, he cannot be matched at this time due to a low number of male volunteers. While he is visibly saddened by this news, he still has a glimmer of hope in his eyes. With assistance from our Outreach Manager, he is matched with an eager and supportive mentor. Just six months later, his mom calls to extend her gratitude for what the mentoring program is doing for both her and her son. She goes on to explain that she is a single mother and unable to provide him with the positive male influence that his mentor has so readily and freely given without complaints. This is a small, yet powerful example of how mentoring can reach beyond the mentoring relationship and touch the lives of families as well.
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