How to start a youth mentoring program
Youth need trusted advisors to guide them. Whether after school mentorship for difficult subjects, assistance with a difficult home life, implementation of fitness programs, or even participating in at risk programs. Youth mentoring and mentorship programs can provide much needed guidance.
- Introduction to youth mentoring
- Starting a youth mentoring program - Financing
- Recruiting Mentors
- Marketing for a youth mentorship program
- Re-cruiting Mentee's
- Delivery of Mentorship programs
- Measuring final outcomes
Introduction to youth mentoring
Mentoring youth helps ensure the next generation goes out fully prepared into the real world. Mentoring can be educationally directed; including tutoring programs and artistic endeavors; mentoring can be sports directed, towards setting up after school fitness activities; or targeted towards youth at risk, to help them develop coping and social skills. With all the need, starting a youth mentoring program can seem like a daunting task, with many factors to consider such as: financing, retaining youth mentors, marketing a youth mentoring program, re-cruiting mentee's, delivery of mentorship programs, and measuring final outcomes.
Starting a youth mentoring program - Financing
Money can be the largest consideration when starting a youth mentoring program. A financial spreadsheet should include such anticipated expenses as rent overhead, cost of supplies, photo-copying, advertising, re-cruitment costs, and any consultancy fee's. Some Government grants do exist; such as the United Way's Action for Neighborhood Change, which can fund short term youth mentoring programs.
Corporate sponsor's present another possibility for financing a program. Going the Corporate way means that even as a non-profit agency, a solid Business plan must be created. Many free resources on the Internet exist for helping with creating a business plan which must include: An Industry overview; Market Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Marketing Plan, Management Plan, Operating Plan, and a Financial Plan.
Expenses for a youth mentoring program can of course be cut down greatly if the program is paired with a sponsor. Other ways to cut down expenses include utilising existing space at public libraries and Church basements, for the fraction of a cost of renting a building or office suite.
No youth mentoring program can be a success without the time and dedication of a qualified group of youth mentors. The American Heritage Dictionary defines mentor as, 'A wise and trusted counselor or teacher'. Mentor's need not always be credentialed professionals; but depending on the nature and scope of the mentoring program they should have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in a chosen field.
Determining the youth mentoring program, will determine the need for various mentors. Local cable television and radio, often allow non-profits to advertise freely for mentor's. Other options include advertising in community based newspapers, and dropping off mentorship applications where other volunteer's are found such as local drop in center's and retired persons associations.
Mentorship application forms should be carefully created and outline the specific skill sets needed for the youth mentoring program. Applicants must be screened; criminal and child abuse checks should be undertaken, and an outline of the rewards, whether emotional or financial for the Mentor must be stated. Recruiting and maintaining a reliable set of Mentor's is a cornerstone of any mentoring program.
Marketing for a youth mentorship program
Once financing and Mentor's have been implemented and screened, a mentorship program must be marketed towards the specific youth it hopes to attract. Following much of the same model for recruiting Mentor's: community based newspapers, free radio and cable advertisements, and flyers in the community should bring in many of the Mentee's. Dropping off introductory letters and applications at local high schools, sports center's, and local Churches are also equally effective.
Youth have a short attention span. For any mentorship to appeal to them, distinctive rewards and program goals must be outlined in the application process, primarily through the program's Mission Statement. Youth at risk program's for example, should such things as, 'Develop anger management and coping skills, and develop effective communication skills in a twelve week program'. Short term, specific goals, with weekly timetables should be outlined for youth.
Prospective Mentee's for any mentorship program should be screened to see if not only they would be a good fit for the program, but whether they can be paired with an appropriate mentor for the duration. Without a solid relationship between Mentor and Mentee, no program will succeed.
Delivery of Mentorship programs
Most mentorship programs are short term goal oriented programs delivered within the Community, at either local non-profit community based industries or through local Churches. Delivery of the materials may be through print, computerized applications, CD-Rom, DVD or Video, and guest speakers and lectures. The cost of paying for a program to be delivered can have a large impact on it's success. Many Professionals are delighted to be given the opportunity to speak at youth programs, and can be provided with a small honorarium or tax receipt in return for their services.
Measuring final outcomes
Completing a youth mentorship program brings responsibility. For any non-profit wishing to continue to offer mentorship programs, a certain success ratio must be achieved. Measuring success in a youth mentoring program often means creating reports for Corporate or Government funding. Often real names are withheld and these reports can usually be created in basic Excel and MSWord applications. Mentoring software does exist and can be purchased, alternatively some free software exists through Civicore.com.
Creating and implementing a youth mentorship program can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. The essential six steps include: Financing; Recruiting Mentors; Marketing for a Mentorship Program; Recruiting Mentee's; Delivery of Mentorship Program, and measuring final outcomes. The youth Mentee's of today may very well be tommorrow's Mentors!