Dedication and Love by Aaron Rogers
Despite participating in what seems to be an entire lifetime of trainings, programs, meetings, and newly formed mentoring relationships, my calendar has informed me that I have only been a part of the Newark Mentoring Movement for a little over a year. This fact makes me stand in awe of the commitment of our donors, board, staff and partners that have sustained The Newark Mentoring Movement for approximately 4 and half years now. With each successive year, our team has ensured that our movement has grown to bring more programs, more collaboration, and more mentors to the mentoring field in the city of Newark. They exemplify what makes a movement successful.
And what makes a movement successful? Well, much like mentoring, movements are marathons. Each leg of the journey requires a commitment to see the race to the finish. Successful movements have the enthusiasm and consistency of individuals committed to the cause. Our work requires tenacity and persistence. It requires energy. It requires dedication and love. It requires you and everything you bring to our work.
At this time of year, we ask all of our friends and partners to help us go the extra mile by joining our 100give100 campaign. Large commitments begin with small steps. A contribution of $100 may not seem like much, but when matched with the tenacity and resources of others, $100 ends up being a $10,000 investment into our work to make sure every young person has access to a mentoring relationship.
The 100Give100 campaign begins today and will end on February 14, a day dedicated to love. Please consider donating $100 during this holiday season to support Newark’s youth and the hundreds of mentors who represent your commitment daily.
Thank you for your tenacious spirit.
Associate Director of the Newark Mentoring Movement
Make your commitment here:
Why Give to NMM?
By Marcellis Counts, Newark Mentoring Movement Program Associate
When I was growing up in Newark, I felt that my obstacles heavily outweighed my options. I belonged to dying homes, littered streets, and a defeated people. Even with my mother’s loving support, I could not fully escape the dysfunction that riddled the city and was part of my daily reality.
Like many children raised in urban communities, I could not fully understand my experiences. I grew to be confused and angry, overwhelmed by unanswered questions and a growing sense of inferiority. I rejected most of what I saw around me. I drifted through high school, isolated from my peers and disconnected from my community until I met a group of individuals who referred to themselves as the Brick City Alumni. I heard the stories of people who were like me and managed to rise and graduate from some of the top universities in the country. I was compelled, motivated, and proud to share something in common with these inspirational people.
The Brick City Alumni became my friends, my mentors. While my life long mission was to leave Newark, I now realized that I had to stay. For the children like me who might be sad or afraid, the ones missing parents, the ones that need someone to tell them that there is more to the world than what they see here, and that if no one else believes in them, I do.
Joining Newark Mentoring Movement gives me the necessary platform to make a difference in the lives of children who will grow to change not only Newark but the world. NMM helps programs build their infrastructure to make sure they are effectively reaching the children they serve. The work here feels deeper than a job. It is in line with my passion and vision for unlocking the wealth of potential that rests here in Newark.
Newark Mentoring Movement & The Girlz Group
Newark Mentoring Movement (NMM) launched and funded Girlz Group's transformative partnership with Butterfly Dreamz, Inc.
"Because of NMM's generous seed funding, Butterfly Dreamz, Inc., a nonprofit that specializes in developing literacy and leadership skills in youth, was able to come on board as the Girlz Group program coordinator. Butterfly Dreamz continues to serve as the program coordinator for the 2016-17 school year, with NMM as a valued thought partner." -Joy Lindsay, Founder and Executive Director, Butterfly Dreamz, Inc.
Akira's Own Words
I was so comfortable with the teachers and the environment at Newark Vocational, but transitioning from there to here was instant drama. The girls that were already at West Side felt they needed to mark their territory, and they looked at us like we came here to take over. But that was far from our mind. We came to do what we had to do, to get in and get out.
Girlz Group started off as a group where we came together to talk about female issues; we built bonds with girls we didn't know, and we became a family, especially for girls who didn't have anyone at home who they could talk to about issues.
Then as time went on, we added more stuff to our meetings. We started doing yoga, we started talking about college, meeting women and learning about their careers, and working together more. A lot of the girls, including me, used to be really shy. We didn't want to speak up and talk at first, but once we became comfortable with the setting in the Girlz Group, our confidence started to build.
One of the highlights last year was Motivation Makeovers, which was an event we hosted for all girls in the community. It turned out really successful; girls from other schools even came. Plus, it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I'm a writer more than a speaker, but during the event I spoke in front of everyone.
Before the Girlz Group, we never had conversations with each other unless it was an argument. In the Girlz Group, we sat down, got into small groups, came up with projects, hosted an event together, and we actually agreed on stuff. People's support will help us accomplish more than what we can accomplish on our own. We can reach more girls and bring the whole community together.
Ms. Johnson, a Vice Principal at West Side Campus High School, told us why she started the Girlz Group, what's it's all about, and her vision for the group's future.
I wanted all the girls in the building to have a space. I wanted them to build relationships and learn from each other, to have positive female mentors. When I first came here, a lot of the girls came to my office to get to know me. They would talk to me about the different issues they were going through. It was such a large flow of girls, I had to make a sign-in sheet for the visits or instruct them to only come during lunch hours. From those conversations, I saw they actually wanted a mentor, and mentoring girls is a passion of mine. Thinking about my own childhood and being a mom at the age of fifteen, I wanted to let the girls know they didn't have to make those same mistakes. Girlz Group was created to give them redirection when needed, to pour love into them so they can continuously be better.
The Girlz Group is a safe space, a place where a girl can come to meet a mentor from all different kinds of backgrounds and ethnic groups. I would describe it as a community where girls become leaders and receive help in achieving their goals and growing into their womanhood. My vision is for all our girls to be college and career ready, for them to have the tools and confidence needed to achieve their dreams and be productive citizens.
We do a lot with the girls. We meet every Wednesday afternoon; we try to provide them with a healthy snack while they're here, we bring inspiring women in to meet and motivate them. We'd like to do even more. We want to take them on trips, expose them to new adventures outside the school's walls-like college, career visits, new art experiences. We can't do this alone. To continue and to grow our impact, we need people's support.
$10,000 to SUPPORT our drive to recruit, screen, train, and refer over 500 new mentors to programs across the city in 2017. Our innovative database of eligible mentor profiles allows youth to choose their own mentors, paving the way for mentor-mentee matches that are stronger and last longer.
"Newark Mentoring Movement has provided us with mentors who are truly committed to empowering children. NMM came at a critical time for us. Not only did they support our "dreamers," but they provided support for me as well. NMM provided a roadmap of invaluable resources, partnerships, and skill-building opportunities. The staff are outstanding individuals, with the passion, drive and commitment to serve the youth of Newark." -Yolanda Gadson, Executive Director, I Have A Dream Foundation - Newark Program
$5,000 to PROVIDE seed money to launch a structured, sustainable school-based mentoring program that builds on the positive relationships and supports that exist in a school community.
"Newark Mentoring Movement has played such an active, crucial part in the success of our mentoring initiative. They were so thoughtful about what I as the program manager need and what our program needs in order to thrive and serve our youth." - Divya J. Desai, Program Coordinator, Community Engagement, Rutgers Newark
$2,500 to SUPPORT one month of our collaborative campaign with My Brother's Keeper Newark to identify and spread best practices specific to mentoring boys and young men of color.
"SCEI is a proud supporter of the Newark Mentoring Movement. The capacity building workshops and dynamic facilitators provided through this organization have allowed both my staff and mentors to grow in leaps and bounds over the past two years." -Jenabu Williams, Executive Director, Sigma Community Enrichment Initiative Inc.
$1,000 to PROVIDE a specialized training to 100 individual mentors on how to respond when youth come to them in crisis.
"Newark Mentoring Movement has helped us create our vision."
-Jasmine Harden, Newark Youth Court
-Jasmine Harden, Newark Youth Court
$500 to SUPPORT management of a mentoring relationship between the leaders of different mentoring programs. We match newer with more experienced program leaders to help both develop their craft.
"One of the most impressive aspects of Newark Mentoring Movement's efforts to build meaningful mentorships is the preparation they help provide to the mentors and the organizations they serve. At the Tuesday afternoon program at Link, the mentors arrive prepared each and every week. The students and teachers at Link consider the mentors part of the Link family. This wouldn't be possible without the assistance and foresight of Newark Mentoring Movement. NMM provided a scaffolding and foundation to help us stay on-purpose. This built the mentoring program's culture and strength...because each and every pair of mentors and mentees has developed into a true mentorship. It is truly amazing." -Greg Silver, Link Community Charter School
Team up with 99 other donors to provide NMM with $10,000 to invest in basic mentor training. Help ensure that every adult who volunteers with a young person in Newark is prepared to be a mentor. Research shows that quality mentor training leads to stronger relationships that last longer.
Putting Your Money Where your Mentoring Is...
By Aaron Rogers, NMM Associate Director
If you haven't noticed yet from the tons of donation requests hitting your electronic mailboxes, we have entered the giving season. Yes! That wonderful time of the year where many organizations (including NMM) ask that you consider putting something for us on your Christmas list (and we've been very good this year). If you are not yet completely sold on our virtous acts, we offer this short reflection on why should support out mentoring network and other organizations that seek to provide mentoring services.
1. Mentoring Matters
Every year we hear countless stories of how mentoring has changed or impacted someone's life. We know you hear these stories too! Many of us have similar stories of how one individual, one teacher, one coach, or one friend offered some little bit of wisdome that completely changees the trajectory of our lives. NMM collaborates with many mentoring organizations throughout the year to make sure that these connections happen every day.
2. Mentoring Partnerships Matter
As a mentoring network we get the opportunity to work closely with mentoring partnerships. Often the need for mentoring in our communities far outweighs the capacity of individual organizations to respond effectively. However, dedicated program staff help us increase our impact through collaborative work. Mentoring partnerships help us reach as many youth as possible and maintain the quality of our mentoring relationships even with limited resources.
3. Your Money Matters
Your financial support goes a long way. This year your donated funds helped us offer seed grants to new mentoring programs, turn youn gpeople into authors, give young girls their first trip to college, help the next generation of computer scienties develop skills in coding, expose young people to beautfil art and culture from around the world, and of course, make sure that each kid had a well-equipped mentor right by their side for the journey.
Please consider helping us continue to make an impact in the city of Newark by making a donation to our worktogether. Come on! Put your money where your mentoring is...
How Champions Are Made: Muhammad Ali and Mentoring
By Aaron Rogers
This past week, we lost one of the greats. Muhammad Ali became famous for his skill and showmanship in the ring, and then became a legend as he extended that mastery and discipline outside of the ropes. Muhammad Ali made the full evolution of the human spirit. He managed to be widely successful at his craft while also demonstrating a profound sense of character and resilience that would certify his legacy as “the Greatest”. Muhammad Ali will be remembered for standing his ground against being drafted in the Vietnam War as much as he will be remembered for knocking out Sonny Liston. People will remember his epic bouts with Joe Frazier and his perennially unmatched courtside bravado, but also his bouts with intellectuals and reporters as he sought to make the cause for Civil Rights not just a conversation of bluster but of bravery and blackness. His out-of–this-world Rumble in the Jungle match versus George Forman will energize young minds for generations, but so will his advocacy for human rights, his political activism, and his moral accountability.
In the coming weeks, many will look over the life of Muhammad Ali and wonder, as we do with all who tower the annals of history, how such a champion was produced. We will consider what phenomenal circumstances launched the historic trajectory of a scrawny kid from Louisville, Kentucky. We will ask ourselves, "How are champions made?"
The answer should come to us all as quickly as an Ali jab. (Ali once joked that he was so fast that one night he turned off the lights and was in the bed before the room was dark…that quick). Muhammad Ali was surrounded by a wealth of mentors. It was Joe E. Martin who first helped a 12 year-old Ali use boxing to channel his fury after having his bicycle stolen. Then there were a host of trainers and mentors who helped Muhammad Ali perfect his craft including Chuck Bodak and more famously Angelo Dundee. Other mentors like Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad would help Ali navigate his own social and emotional challenges of dealing with racism in a world slowly being changed through civil rights struggles. Ali, himself, has also noted the powerful influence of his boxing peers (especially rival Joe Frazier) as sources of inspiration and listening ears during the tough years before being allowed to box in the U.S. again because of the repercussions of his non-participation in the Vietnam War draft.
As we celebrate the life of Muhammad Ali, let us remember all the ways his example inspires us. For me, the People’s Champ, inspires me to service, to personal courage, to supreme confidence, to radical authenticity, and of course, to mentoring. He reminds me that champions are not only forged through hard work, but also through community.
Butterflies don’t float,
and Bees don’t sting
Without their wings
Rumble, mentors, Rumble!!!
Grit, Grace, and Place:
The Strength-Based Argument for Contextual Growth and Refinement
By Aaron Rogers
There has been a very popular and intense argument circulating in the public sphere and on social media about grits. And no, I am not talking about the epic debate on the popular breakfast food (although I like mine with salt and butter sans sugar). The conversation I am talking about is the debate on “grit”, the now fatally popular term that describes that hard to define mystique and mixture of self-determination and resilience that allows some children to endure, succeed, and thrive despite the challenges that are inherent in their environment and perhaps even in their institutions.
The debate wavers between two seemingly opposing poles of thought that seem to be another incarnation of the nature versus nurture debate that at some point seems to creep subtly into all of our cocktail conversations. On one side, youth development professionals argue that grit is a skill that can be taught to opportunity youth to help them navigate their way through local environments that either fail or inadequately meet their needs. This perspective acknowledges the tendency in our field to leave young people on a figurative Survivor’s Island and tell them to make it out with a flashlight and a paper clip. This argument reminds us that we can actually teach youth the skills to survive their environment, beginning with grit.
In the other corner, youth development professionals argue that grit is something students who grow up in tough communities already have. This perspective acknowledges that grit, to borrow a phrase, comes with the territory. In other words, your super important program is trying to teach a skill to toughen up a young person who already was taught how to be tough well before your “super important” program got there. Grit, hardiness, and hard work are already traditions that exist within the communities we serve.
The Middle Way: Reverence and Refinement
The truth in most arguments exists somewhere between the notions that we have pitted against one other. This argument of grit seems to be no different. Grit is not some divine revelation that needs to descend like Promethean fire from the programming gods down to the lowly contexts where our kids reside. Grit is primarily a homemade/homegrown skill that more regularly needs to be appreciated than discovered or generated. However we can recognize the responsibility our institutions, programs, and staff have in helping to exercise and develop a skill and ethic of resilience that (while present in the communities we serve) may benefit from consistent support, identification, and honing.
Here’s a Star Wars reference (because I am nerd). Anakin Skywalker grew up with force. No one needed to teach him how to use the force to do cool stuff; because of his environment he kind of just picked it up on his own with oftentimes unpolished but amazing results. When his (ahem) mentors showed up in Qui Gon Jin and Obi wan Kenobi, they helped young Anakin identify his own innate ability for the force and then offered to put him in a program that would help him maximize and utilize this apparent talent and turn it into skill that Anakin could use to improve his life and the lives of those he cares about. (I know what you’re thinking…doesn’t Anakin end up becoming Darth Vader…that’s a conversation for a different blog about when your mentee becomes a super-villain…work with me here).
A Place for Two Perspectives
The dynamics of strength-based approaches and growth mindset practices seem to hint at ways in which we can incorporate both perspectives in an approach that allows for both reverence and refinement. Strength based approaches to youth development suggest that a way forward is to begin by seeing what strengths (read skills) are readily available and building from a foundation that acknowledges what is possible and what has already been made possible by the young person. If we take this approach seriously, it allows us the space to contextualize our engagement with young people by acknowledging the skills already there. The growth mindset allows us to frame our work in ways that help us look at the way those strengths can be improved using what’s great about them as a launch pad for continuing growth. A way forward may be approaches that seek to identify traditions and ethics of grit already present in the communities we seek to serve and begin using those areas as places where we can seek to expand on (not produce) those skills of resilience and self-determination.
Grit (s) for All
I grew up on the magic of grits. At times when money was tight, my mother relied on grits (a relatively inexpensive food) to provide her three children a nutritious breakfast every morning before school. My mother’s grits are the best to me. She made hers with salt and butter. I have learned over the last few days that there are many ways to have this old-school delicacy. There are cheese grits, sugar grits, plain grits, grits with salt and butter, grits accompanied by raisins or other fruit and some combinations I am still trying to wrap my head around. I have been warmed though by the thought that there are others who may have had experiences and memories like mine that helped them develop there own unique flavors of grits. I have also been challenged to think of ways that my particular experience of the dish may be made better. I have learned some new ideas to try to incorporate when I feed my daughter her first bowl. Grit (the skill of resilience) is present already in many of the places where it is most needed, however thriving in the midst of challenges is a dish that all of us can further refine.
A Visit to She Wins
By Matt Lefkowitz, Newark Mentoring Movement summer intern, 2015
When Elizabeth and I first stepped into the Hayes Park West Center of Hope, we were unsure of what to expect. Home to the program She Wins on Wednesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays, the community center serves as both a learning and playful environment to young girls. There, we met A’Dorian, the summer program’s director and founder, and her mother, another working hand, in the middle of an activity. Elizabeth and I found our way into their inner circle and listened as they described the dangers of destructive relationships. Of the fifteen girls present, nearly half of them spoke up and the others were leaned in, listening attentively.
When lunchtime arrived and the girls raced to their eating spots, it was time to begin the one on one interviews. Aaliyih Bellamy, age thirteen, was first, and her story was perhaps the most eye opening. She greeted me with a vibrant smile, and to my satisfaction, it was to stay with us for the entirety of the interview. After sitting, we spoke about her mentor A’Dorian, whom she also regards as her “best friend.” They dance Jersey Club and text regularly, but A’Dorian also finds time to excel in her role as a mentor. For example, Aaliyih is an honor role student and is seemingly always at the top of her class. While A’Dorian is inherently proud of Aaliyih and is outgoing with praise, she is never satisfied and she drives that same hunger into Aaliyih. Aaliyih has embraced this attitude and acknowledges the road ahead, saying, “This isn’t a game, it’s real life. You only get one chance.” Coming from a thirteen year-old, these blunt words show how mature Aaliyih has become. After her niece’s untimely death, Aaliyih felt frustrated and helpless, and her decision to join She Wins was one way in which she found answers. In She Wins, she also found a haven where its okay to act her age, and be the kid she still is. A bright passionate woman, Aaliyih will certainly continue to realize her goals and be the best person she can be. After the interview finished, we shook hands, and she smiled and walked away.
When Malayjah Williams realized it was her turn, she skipped over to the couch where I was sitting. She, like Aaliyih, appreciates how She Wins offers quality time with friends and an opportunity to learn about contemporary issues. She also respects A’Dorian’s “big sister” perspective. Before long, Malayjah opened up about one of her biggest dreams, opening a chain of stores that sells clothing, perfume, and books. Its name, Queen Williams, will be recognized nationwide because Malayjah ambitiously intends to expand right away. While her business acumen was apparent, as evidenced by her “buy 3 shirts get two free” motto, she also has a soft spot for the community, apparently “$80,000 in donations for shelters, and $100 weekly to homeless people living in [her] neighborhood.” In much the same way as Aaliyih, Malayjah is far wiser than her height and her age would suggest.
Then came Layla Jones, Malayjah’s friend and another eleven year-old. Off the bat, Layla admitted that she suffers from temper tantrums, but she has a strategy. Whenever Layla is on the verge of a tantrum, she or someone else says, “21.” A’Dorian, wanting to encourage positive behavior, devised a "21 days to build a habit" project. Each student came up with a good habit she wanted to build, or a bad one she wanted to break, in 21 days, and the "21" statement is in reference to that progress. A’Dorian has informed Layla’s parents of her system, and they use “21” at home as well. This system, while thus far only yielding tentative success, is a prime example of how important the presence of a mentor and strong role model is. She Wins also employs a “leave it at the door” policy, which ensures that everyone involved brings a positive attitude and enthusiasm. Despite her challenges, Layla also shows great promise, and her dream to become a model seems even more likely given how she attends a modeling school and how she continues to improve herself.
Next I met thirteen-year-old Navaeh Parker, and our love for Game of Thrones immediately sparked a connection. She, like me, mourns the fictional death of Eddard Stark and hopes that one day Jaime Lannister pays for his hypothetical sins. However, she has also been faced with real violence in her own life. After her grandfather’s death by homicide, Navaeh was introduced to She Wins and she immediately became fond of the camaraderie the program encouraged. Her positive reflection of her first day at the program was characterized by fun activities and a surplus of laughter. Navaeh then informed me of her favorite activity—writing a page in the Be Yourself Journal. Navaeh loves books and it is not surprising that her library card serves as her golden ticket to the chocolate factory. After the interview, Navaeh told me of her next read: Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire.
My last interview was with Faith Key, and her intern position at She Wins provided an additional perspective. She, age fifteen, is not only a mentor to the younger children but also a mentee to the older A’dorian. Her favorite part of the program is always having someone to talk to, and there is almost not enough of her to go around. But there are inherent challenges to being a mentor. For example, Faith often has to remind the kids that she is not the enemy. When only trying to help, she is combated with criticism such as, “Who do you think you are? You’re not an adult!” Faith’s easy going nature is crucial in moments like these and she merely lets the kids know that she is here if they need her. Faith has always wanted to become a doctor but only recently has she narrowed her scope to dermatology. “I could watch skin videos for hours,” she says. Following in A’Dorian’s footsteps by attending the same boarding school, Northfield Mount Herman School in Gill, MA, Faith continues to increase her chances of realizing her goal.
Walking to the car and continuing on the ride home, I bragged to Elizabeth how bright and fascinating each and every girl I had interviewed was. Elizabeth, a longtime employee for the Newark Mentoring Movement, was far from surprised. She knew these types of stories to be the norm for kids throughout the city but it is only so often they get their stories and voices heard. I’m just glad I was lucky guy who was able to listen to them.
Advice from Randy
By Randy Ross, Newark Mentoring Movement Intern
Let me introduce myself. I’m just scraping the precipice of adulthood. As I’m writing this I’m 18. I’ve been 18 for approximately 40 days. Within 18 years and 40 days I’ve learned many things. Things I’ll hold dear and value for the rest of my life. I live in a generation that is technically sound and advanced. If a major event was to occur in India right now there’s a likely chance I would know what happened within 2-3 minutes, maybe less. On an intellectual level I would like to consider myself a visionary. I’m tricky… I can see philosophical meanings in things that most people would find unimportant yet I’m one of the most terrible spellers I know. (Thanks to the heavens for SPELLCHECK.)
I’ve had and still have mentors, most I know personally and some I don’t. There are things that some people can’t handle themselves. Thankfully I was strong enough to make it through the circumstances I was subjected to. When you’re young but not really young, I’ll say around 7 to 15, when you begin to understand and grasp the things that happen around you, I think that’s when you’re most susceptible to your environment. You start to figure out and understand the things you like and dislike and build the basic foundation of who you are. During this period many young people not only go through it alone but with added uncontrollable circumstances much like myself. Having someone to follow and look up to is priceless. Someone who helps you deal with your problems rather than just handling them for you.
Having a mentor can help youth get past high school and go further. So many of my peers have talents that aren’t easily acquired or have interests that are different and are also very unique, I feel the problem is they don’t want to chase what it is that makes them happy. College isn’t for everyone, yet there is a school or an institution or a class of some sort that provides a foundation of higher leaning for whatever it is you want to do in life. If there was more of a broad teaching on the possibilities after high school it would get more young people attracted to the idea of college or any form of schooling after high school. This, hand in hand with the healthy influence of a positive mentor, can do a lot for younger people who don’t put too much thought into their future as they grow up.
I’d like to give a few other pieces of advice to younger youth to help get through stressful times. Join a sport or listen to an artist that he or she may find interesting. Sports are a great way to meet new people and build friendships, and music has helped me through a lot. My favorite artist is J Cole; I’ve been listening to his music for about 6 years now. Sometimes you can listen to a song and it is voicing everything you may be feeling inside or all the things that may be going on in your life at the time, which can be a great picker upper.
Everyone is going to run into problems. Many things you’ll be able to get by on your own, but it’s extremely important to seek out people who can help you as well. If you feel overwhelmed, there’s always someone to ease the edge, and there is also no such thing as too much help.
What mentoring means to me
By Jessica Fitzpatrick
Hello Newark Mentoring Movement Family! My name is Jessica Fitzpatrick and I am honored to be completing my internship at the Newark Mentoring Movement. Being a mentor has changed my perspective on life and has greatly influenced my passion to work with children. I became a mentor a year ago at Talent Search East at Rutgers Newark and the greatest moments are when I see my students happy.
Through my mentoring experience, I learned that children want somebody to help them educationally, as well as emotionally and mentally. Having a personal connection with each of my students has improved me as a person. I manage to handle my responsibilities, while making sure the children gain the proper skills to complete assignments with a positive attitude.
I feel mentorship is important because it can create lifelong relationships. As a young child I succeeded most when I had just that extra push I needed. I did not always feel comfortable going to my family because sometimes people need a point of view from an individual who may not be related to them. Having respect and the ability to empathize with others makes it easier for me to be open with my students as well as them be open with me. You cannot effectively influence a mentee if they have created a barrier. The best advice I could give a future mentor is that in order to overcome a barrier you should
I am looking forward to strengthening my qualities at the Newark Mentoring Movement by understanding the practices for successful mentorships and the best structure to have a sustainable organization. I hope to establish some lifelong relationships with my fellow peers and the organizations that we partner with. I will leave one more word of advice for the readers who may not think they have mentor qualities: You are way more influential then you know and there is a child out there that needs your guidance today!
By Elizabeth Weisholtz
We work so hard to recruit mentors, but sometimes it may feel as though that’s just the start of the battle. There are those stalwart mentors who stick around forever through thick and thin, and then there are all the “mentors” who come and go. A youth in your program may ask, “What ever happened to so and so,” and it makes us all commit even more to recruiting mentors who stick around.
I just got back from the National Mentoring Partnership’s annual conference, and I was really struck by all of the idea sharing between programs across the country about how to hold on to mentors. Most of these strategies revolve around a few basic ideas: communication, support, ownership, feedback, fun, and appreciation. It turns out that a lot of mentors are looking for the same basic things that youth are looking for, and building community among mentors has a lot in common with building community for youth. Read on to learn about mentor retention strategies that program leaders say work for them.
· Make the required commitment clear when you first recruit mentors, and screen out anyone up front who can’t keep that commitment.
· Bring all mentors and mentees together for fun group activities once in a while. Focus on activities that will get people talking to each other. If you do a show or a ball game, have a meal before or after.
· Offer opportunities for mentors to meet and talk with each other outside of their meetings with the youth. These opportunities could be purely social or could include guided discussions about the challenges and inspirations they experience as mentors.
· If your program is site-based and everyone meets at the same time and place, have mentors stick around an extra 15 minutes to debrief together after each session with the youth.
· Tell the mentors when youth make comments that show they care about their mentors showing up. Write thank you notes to mentors once in a while or talk to the youth about doing this.
· Do brief monthly email updates to the mentors about what’s happening in the program. Include pictures of mentors with their mentees and very short surveys to ask mentors’ opinions about program matters.
· Look for specific roles and responsibilities that each mentor can take on in your program. If there’s something you want to do but haven’t found the time, maybe one of your mentors can take it on.
· Hold an annual mentor appreciation event. This doesn’t have to be expensive – the important thing is to remember to say thank you.
· Ask mentors who stick around why they do it, and build on what they say.