Summit Fellows

Through the Summit Fellowship Program, MENTOR seeks to provide critical professional development and network building opportunities to practitioners who are making an impact on the mentoring field but are unable to attend the National Mentoring Summit due to financial barriers. To read about the 2019 Summit Fellows, click here.

Selected Fellows will receive: 

  • Complimentary admission to the National Mentoring Summit
  • A $1,000 travel and accommodations stipend
  • Access to exclusive networking and promotional opportunities
  • Collaborative learning opportunities after the Summit

Eligibility Requirements: 

  • Full time employee for a mentoring program
  • Mentoring program:
    • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in the United States in operation for at least three years 
    • Annual mentoring program budget (not organization budget) of $150,000 or less
    • Prior to submission, applicants must submit a request for their organization to be listed in the Mentoring Connector if they aren’t listed already.
    • Only one applicant per organization will be selected.

Applications for the 2020 Summit Fellowship Program are now closed.

Approximately 15 Fellows will be selected pending funding for the Program- Applicants will be notified if they have been selected by September 25, 2019.

For more information:
Contact Melissa English, Program Manager at menglish@mentoring.org.

Still curious about the Summit Fellowship Program? We’ve got you covered – hear from members of the 2019 Summit Fellows Cohort on their experiences in the section below.

Amabelle Camba

CASA of the River Region
(Kentucky)

“Coming back to my organization, I not only brought back what I learned from the sessions and my Fellows, but I also brought back a better version of me, invigorated and motivated, to keep up the good fight.”

I have spent almost 20 years working with nonprofits, foundations and government agencies. Sometimes I was working as a third-party consultant and other times I was an employee. But no matter which one it was, the main message was that all money supports programming; capacity building was not a priority and overhead must be kept low – very, very low. For any nonprofit trying to make a difference, your idealism is constantly challenged by the lack of support in developing you and your organization to be healthy and thriving financially and professionally.

But, the attitude is changing, albeit slowly. I firmly believe the only reason this change is happening is because people working in and with nonprofits understand that to be successful you have to have the knowledge and experience, on top of the passion and dedication. This means more nonprofits are investing in their staff through professional development activities, like the National Mentoring Summit. By supporting the team that works so hard to bring the mission into action, they are telling their staff they value them enough to invest in them in the long run. This investment means better work outcomes, development of new skills, and increased retention. With a growing, invested and knowledgeable staff, the organization will expand just as positively.

Being part of the National Mentoring Summit was a goal I hoped to attain to do my part in changing how nonprofits view professional development. However, changing attitudes do not always mean changing budgets. So, it was necessary for me to become a Summit Fellow to participate in the Summit. Luckily, I was chosen to be one of 15 fellows who were given the opportunity to be part of Capitol Hill day, the conference and special funder events. It was being part of the Fellows group that I really benefited from because it was like-minded people trying to make their part of the world a better place by improving their own skills and knowledge. Their experiences mirrored my own, but the exchange of ideas and experiences—from their reaction to situations, solutions to problems and ideas for growth—were so varied that my Fellows became a second classroom.

The main thing about working in nonprofits is to persist in the face of adversity. But, you have to have the energy to keep going despite the bumps and hurdles. The Summit Fellows program is the only way for small to medium nonprofits to participate in national educational opportunities. Coming back to my organization, I not only brought back what I learned from the sessions and my Fellows, but I also brought back a better version of me, invigorated and motivated, to keep up the good fight.

Ethan Johnstone

Pendleton Place for Children and Families
(South Carolina)

“Just like other professional practitioners in fields such as healthcare, mental health, child advocacy, racial and social justice, mentoring practitioners thrive and grow as professionals when given opportunities to development new skills, learn best practices, and network with colleagues.”

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? 

A: As a new mentoring practitioner, it was vital for me to attend the Summit to get hands on and in person skills to complement what I was learning through researching best practices in the field. By the time I applied for the fellowship, I had already redesigned our mentoring program based on the Elements of Effective Practice™ and created systems that would increase our program’s efficiency and impact, but I needed to gain more understanding of how to ensure its sustainability and engagement. I had also connected with some of the local mentoring programs in our area to learn from them, but we are the only program serving young adults through mentoring in our area. I had a strong desire to grow as a practitioner and positively impact the program, clients, and community I serve and knew that by being surrounded by 1,300 other professionals in the field I would come away with key skills to do that.

Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?

A: After attending the Summit, we learned that we had made a great start on redesigning our program, but that we still had a lot of work to do. We have begun to look more critically at the characteristics we want our mentors to have to ensure that they fully meet the needs of the mentees we serve. We have also begun planning a youth advisory board that will inform the work we do as an agency and we hope having youth voice and leadership included in the work we do will help us identify further gaps and blind spots as well as create a more positive experience for the youth and young adults we serve.

Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: Just like other professional practitioners in fields such as healthcare, mental health, child advocacy, racial and social justice, mentoring practitioners thrive and grow as professionals when given opportunities to development new skills, learn best practices, and network with colleagues. Professional development also gives mentoring practitioners an opportunity to hear about the critical needs of youth they serve and examine how their programs can address systems of oppression in these young lives through positive relationships with mentors who hold similar identities as them.

La’Rhonda Scott

Adolescent Mentoring Program at UAB
(Alabama)

“In order for us to do a better job of supporting our mentors and our clients, it is important that training and development opportunities are available for everyone, otherwise we cannot competently provide our most effective services to those in need.”

My name is La’Rhonda Scott. I am the Program Administrator for The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Adolescent Mentoring Program (AMP) in Birmingham, Alabama. Our program works with court involved youth who are at a higher risk of recidivism. AMP provides both individual and group mentoring for the clients we serve. As far as I was aware, AMP was the only program of its kind in the state. I found out about MENTOR after finding myself in a position of confusion. I was running a program that served young Black males as a majority but had very little success with recruiting Black male mentors. I was concerned that we were not providing the best service we could possibly provide. While on the MENTOR website, I found an advertisement for the Summit Fellowship Program.

It was important for me to attend the National Mentoring Summit because I knew there were things that I could learn and bring back to my state. I had very little information about other programs in my area. I had no experience with training and seminars provided to my state. I had hit a plateau with my program and had run out of ideas for making the most of the resources at my disposal. I thought that my attendance would give me fresh eyes. I would have the opportunity to hear how others in the same position are working for their communities and their programs.

After meeting the great people from other organizations in Alabama, a bond was created. Since being home, we have all maintained communication and are working to combine our efforts so that we can give the information we received to others who work in mentoring. In order for us to do a better job of supporting our mentors and our clients, it is important that training and development opportunities are available for everyone, otherwise we cannot competently provide our most effective services to those in need.

Megan Sommers

Steel City Squash
(Pennsylvania)

“…By sitting in on the sessions, I was able to learn how to better support our youth and learn techniques to better recruit young professionals to be mentors.”

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? 

A: It was important for me to attend the National Mentoring Summit because this was an opportunity for me to learn more about diverse mentoring programs that are successful in their respective areas. By attending the Summit, I was able to immediately increase capacity by learning new skills from the breakout sessions, networking, and conversations at the Philanthropic Partnerships Track Lunch and Fireside Chat.  The mentor program at Steel City Squash was having difficulty attracting our urban male youth and by sitting in on the sessions, I was able to learn how to better support our youth and learn techniques to better recruit young professionals to be mentors.

Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?

A: I have been able to bring back a lot of rich learning to my program. Having been able to listen to viewpoints of other mentoring programs with a diverse youth background, I have been exposed to different ways of recruiting potential mentors and I have put different structures in place to better support our young men and boys in our program. I was so excited to hear from Project MALES and see their presentation!  They were so enlightening and encouraging to listen to. I was able to take parts of their program and implement it into my program to better support our youth.

Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: It is invaluable to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities. As a professional I have grown tremendously from this Summit and will continue to reflect on what I have learned here. As a part of a non-profit organization, I am the only one working with mentoring at Steel City Squash. Sometimes it was difficult to work through tough patches or to reflect effectively on the program when it’s only my set of eyes viewing through this lens of mentoring all the time. Having been around peers with similar struggles not only assured me that I am doing what’s best, but gave me a connection and potential sounding board to reach out to if I get stuck again.

Thank you again for everything and for choosing me to be a 2019 Summit Fellow. I have grown and learned so much from the sessions, folks, and peers I was able to meet!

“Mentoring is not just about two people in a three or four year relationship, it is about influencing decades of decision-making and life choices.”

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?

A: Attending the National Mentoring Summit was important to me because it was crucial for my mentoring program. The slate of excellent, relevant presentations covered a wide variety of topics that would improve and influence how we connect with students and mentors to give them the best experience possible. When given the opportunity to learn and grow, I will say yes every time- especially when I’m able to learn from experienced, invested folks who are respected professionals in the field. The most significant challenge our program faces is recruiting enough quality mentors to reach the large number of students who would greatly benefit from an additional caring, committed adult.  Students may not physically say, “I need a mentor”, but convey that desire in their actions and their yearning for a positive adult presence in their life.

Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?

A: When I have the opportunity for advanced training and learning, I focus on only a few strategies I can effectively implement in a timely manner. A shotgun-like approach with the acquisition of many great ideas will not yield the same results as concentrating with learning a select amount fully.  So, the three main ideas I implemented immediately are: targeting the audience we are recruiting, requesting and expecting more involvement from our board members to recruit and support new and current mentors, and empowering our mentors with more resources to engage students. I know this is a process but already we have many presentations to various groups and organizations to tell our story and sell our product……hope.

Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: The importance of supporting and providing mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities is to create a ripple effect of sharing knowledge. What I learned at the Summit was shared with mentors, board members and school personnel. In turn, they shared it with their cohorts- infinitely impacting and improving life situations for others. Any amount of fiscal investment poured into employees through quality, substantive workshops and conferences will pay dividends for a long time. Mentoring is not just about two people in a three or four year relationship, it is about influencing decades of decision-making and life choices. Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” I am so very thankful I was given a stone to cast.

“This conference was great- it was awesome to be able to represent the great state of Alaska and leave with such a valuable experience.”

 

I was so pleased to be selected along with 14 other mentoring practitioners from all across the country to serve as the 2019 Summit Fellows Cohort. Without the Summit Fellowship Program’s aid, I wouldn’t have had the economic means to attend Summit. The conference was a great opportunity for me to connect with other practitioners from all over the country to talk about our programs’ successes, challenges, opportunities, and how we can support each other and our programs. I impressed with the number of presentations and panels on useful topics such as offering quality mentoring programs, how to close the mentor gap, and why mentoring matters. In addition, we were able to meet with members of Congress from our state to advocate for the support of and for better quality mentoring programs during Capitol Hill Day. That was awesome!

Since my work is about connecting diverse young Alaskans to our public lands and offering quality outdoor youth education programs, Summit was an ideal platform for me because it connected me with such a diverse audience. From researchers, educators, to corporate sponsors who are experts in the field of mentoring and major funders, I was able to leverage so many relationships to great success. As a state, Alaska is so geographically disconnected from the rest of the lower 48, so it was great to overcome that distance to attend Summit. I was able to attend sessions on Toxic Masculinity, Youth Mentoring Youth, Mentoring Native Youth, Mentoring Youth with Mental Health Conditions, listen in on a youth panel on Why Mentoring Programs Matter, and participate in a Fireside Chat moderated by DACA recipients.

I hope to bring awareness around the importance of storytelling to my organization. During Capitol Hill Day training, I was able to attend a presentation from a Congressional Management Foundation staff member titled, “Storytelling to move hearts, minds, and votes.” Science tells us that stories engage our whole brain, whereas facts only engage with a smaller portion. This was an amazing session that taught me the key elements of storytelling such as beginning with the end in mind, describing the struggle, and introducing the potential of success and joy. With this helpful new insight in mind, now I have more confidence in sharing the impacts of our mentoring programs to students, potential funders and legislators. This conference was great- it was awesome to be able to represent the great state of Alaska and leave with such a valuable experience. I hope to work together to close the mentoring gap in Alaska. Thank you for your time! Best, Reth Duir.

Samana Budhathoki

Power 4 Youth
(California)

“I believe opportunities like this allow us to connect with the world outside of our bubble. It gives us an enlightening perspective that we are a part of something bigger, and that we are not alone in our struggle of providing life-changing experiences to our youth.”

As we all know, in a small local non-profit organization setting, because of our funding situation, the staff size can get pretty low. With that, our work can also get hectic, lonely, and stagnant. It was therefore important for me to attend the National Mentoring Summit to get a breath of fresh air, learn new ideas and ways of mentoring and most importantly, meet people from all different parts of America with a similar mission like mine and that of Power 4 Youth— which is to make an impact and improve lives through mentoring.

By attending the Summit, I was able to build a small yet very close-knit community of like-minded and super inspiring people. The experience also allowed me to meet corporate funders and individual donors. I was able to gain new, valuable insights and learn skills related to compelling storytelling, effective fund development, how to mentor youth who are survivors of trauma or human trafficking, how to effectively mentor immigrant youth, how to apply cognitive behavioral therapy techniques in a mentoring setting, and how to evaluate our program outcomes, etc. I truly learned a lot at Summit!

Moreover, the Summit gave me a chance to not only learn about new bills in Congress but also present and advocate for them in front of congressional members on Capitol Hill. Where else can one get such an experience? I was fortunate to be able to soak it all up and bring it back to our agency and community here in Long Beach. Since January, I have been using my skills to grow with our program youth, mentors, the district, and our local coalition members.

It is crucial for mentoring practitioners to be a part of a movement so significant and so passionate. Along with getting lonely and stagnant behind our desks in our offices, it is often easy to lose sight of the ever-changing future. I believe opportunities like this allow us to connect with the world outside of our bubble. It gives us an enlightening perspective that we are a part of something bigger, and that we are not alone in our struggle of providing life-changing experiences to our youth.

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This quote proves to be true time and time again, and the National Mentoring Summit is its living proof.

Stephen Browning

Family Violence Initiative
(Arizona)

“I really appreciate and have plans to instill at every possible level the core mantra I took away from the summit, that it is the “relationship” that draws out the depth of the collective mentor/mentee experience.”

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?

A: Attending the National Mentoring Summit was immensely beneficial for me, as well to the work with my colleagues at the Arizona Child and Adolescent Survivor Initiative. Our project was funded and began its development less than four years ago. In my role as the Volunteer Program Coordinator, I’m chiefly responsible for the development of our volunteer mentors component. Since our launch, our initiative has been scaling statewide to meet the support needs of children and youth who have experience an extremely traumatic experiences. It had been several years since I had the privilege of attending a national conference of this professional magnitude. Moreover, due to professional development limitation within our grant funding for our project, without the Summit Fellows award I could not have been able to attend.

Needless to say, the timing of Summit, along with the valuable fellowship award, yielded for me multiple points of innovative practices, current research and best practice models, for my immediate use. The suitcase full of exemplary mentor programs, current data and research from national/international perspectives, learning from highly sought after speakers and trainers…undeniably equipped me with invaluable new insights to return back to various communities and colleagues in Arizona.

Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?

A: I have already recommended and implemented insights and tools I received from the Summit. Some include revamping my projects screening and interviewing questions and overall vetting practices for our potential mentor applicants. As a result of information from one training session, I have also modified our pre-mentor match core training. In addition, I will soon implement other vetting strategies I garnered from the Summit such as doing In-Home Site visit and interviews with mentor applicants.

I really appreciate and have plans to instill at every possible level the core mantra I took away from the summit, that it is the “relationship” that draws out the depth of the collective mentor/mentee experience.

Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: I believe the significance of supporting mentoring practitioners with professional development is synonymous with providing academia professional, therapists, medical experts… the latest research, best practices and experience to be with colleagues of like passion and skill. Among my private spheres of influence and friendships, we have a common phase we often exchange which is, “Iron Sharpens Iron”. Others would perhaps phrase it as sharping your saw, all the same, peer networking and professional development, especially on this summits level has expanded my competency, further equipped, and boosted my desire to help the helpers of some of the most vulnerable, yet resilient youth in our society.

Syd Stewart

Better Youth, Inc.
(California)

“The National Mentoring Summit is a place where we can refuel and recommit because in order to change the narrative of just one child – it takes a village – all of us working together.”

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? 

A: Attending the National Mentoring Summit was important for me for a wide variety of reasons. The fact alone that Summit is a national convening of youth mentoring agencies, practitioners and mentoring program stakeholders that provided a place to network, learn, and share about best practices and new developments in the mentoring movement made it a must-attend event for me.

Our leadership team thought that by attending the Summit, Better Youth might strengthen its position in the community and gain exposure both locally and nationally. Capacity building is about developing relationships and impact. Relationships help strengthen impact, and impact helps change the narrative for the constituency of youth we serve. Increasing our capacity to serve more youth requires an increase in operational support, which is one of our greatest challenges for 2019.

Being a 2019 Fellow was an esteemed honor for me both personally and professionally. And by attending the Summit, we were able to raise both local and national awareness for our mission, impact, and organization. The National Mentoring Summit helped to not only validate me personally as a mentoring practitioner but Better Youth as an organization – in terms of recognizing the value of the work on a national level.

Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?

A: I shared Summit materials with my staff in addition to activating advocacy action alerts and incorporating key strategies gleaned from Capitol Hill Day activities. Post Summit, our staff and youth have attended local advocacy workshops and are planning a summer advocacy arts event to help raise awareness on policy and voter registration for foster youth in the community ages 18-25. We have scheduled meetings with local representatives and followed up with congressional offices on Capitol Hill. Ultimately, we look forward to developing new relationships in the government sector and raising awareness about Better Youth’s mission and programs.

Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: Professional development and peer networking opportunities for mentoring practitioners are critical to success in the field. We often times feel like we operate in a vacuum – pushing the proverbial rock of social good up the mountain by ourselves. It can be daunting and discouraging. The National Mentoring Summit is a place where we can refuel and recommit because in order to change the narrative of just one child – it takes a village – all of us working together. Truly, Summit is a place where we can annually convene, connect, and collectively work to make an impact for the greater good in our respective communities.

Toya Russell

 B’Fly Girls, Inc.
(Georgia)

“Specifically, working with youth in a mentoring capacity, the evidence of impact can be subjective in nature and those in this field benefit from partnering with organizations such as MENTOR: The National Mentor Partnership to facilitate best practices, program efficiency, evaluation, and tools to support our work.”

Attending the National Mentoring Summit has been one of the most important things I’ve done since beginning my work in mentoring. Having the opportunity to meet and network with other like-minded professionals running similar programming was truly inspiring. It was mentioned during the Summit that many of us feel alone in doing this work and I can echo that it surely feels that way sometimes. But, getting a chance to attend a national convening of practitioners on this level renewed my energy levels and passion for the work I do each and every day- I am so glad I had the chance to experience it.

I knew there would be great opportunities to learn new ideas, best practices, and programmatic strategies that I could implement further at my organization at Summit. In the workshops I attended, it was great to learn of in-depth programming support, evaluation tools, tools to build strategic partnerships, and how to make a bigger impact on the youth I serve. One of my major goals this year for my program was to build an evaluation tool that shows the impact of our service. At Summit, it was a relief to discover the resources available to support this effort. I have already connected with a technical assistant to begin the process and I am eagerly looking forward to the result.

As a non-profit professional, it is important that I am aware of the tools and resources available in the industry so that I can utilize them efficiently. Specifically, working with youth in a mentoring capacity, the evidence of impact can be subjective in nature and those in this field benefit from partnering with organizations such as MENTOR: The National Mentor Partnership to facilitate best practices, program efficiency, evaluation, and tools to support our work. Since leaving the Summit, I have connected with the emerging mentoring Affiliate in Georgia and joined the Provider Council.

Zahkiya Brown

America SCORES New York
(New York)

“Likewise, I hope that I can reiterate how important and impactful it is to connect with a network of organizations to collectively build strength and knowledge.”

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?

A: It was important for me to attend the National Mentoring Summit because it allowed me to further my passion for youth development. I think it was important to have the opportunity to connect and network with other organizations that focus on similar objectives in youth mentoring advocacy. Participating in Capitol Hill Day helped increase my awareness and passion to advocate for youth development. The organization I work at, America SCORES New York, is a non-profit organization that focuses on self-expression, teamwork, commitment, and fair play through soccer, poetry, and community service learning. Learning at the Summit how much funding goes into mentoring organizations was crucial for my knowledge gathering. One post-Summit thought I had was that it would be great to do a collective research study to exhibit how America SCORES New York and similar non-profits play a vital part in mentoring in our communities.

Q: How do you hope/how have you brought your learnings back to your organization?

A: I hope that I brought back the mindset of growth expansion and deeper understanding. Likewise, I hope that I can reiterate how important and impactful it is to connect with a network of organizations to collectively build strength and knowledge. It’s also important to let folks at my organization know of the advantages that partnering with legislators has in community change.

Q: Why is it important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities?

A: It is important to support and provide mentoring practitioners with professional development and peer networking opportunities to broaden the scope of youth development. I think it’s important to match the two together in a cohesive manner to educate and pair the two for continued growth.