What does it take to build a strong community? What role do you have in responding to society’s most pressing challenges?
Research and experience show the power of mentoring to build bridges, break down “otherness” and create lasting, meaningful relationships. Yet one in three young people grow up without a mentor outside their family to help them develop, access opportunities, and thrive.
Relationships matter. Making a connection with a young person in your community will change not only their life, but yours as well.
Qualities of a Good Mentor
- Cultural competence and humility
- Active listening skills
- Ability to see solutions and opportunities
What Mentors Do
- Support a young person through an ongoing relationship
- Serve as a positive role model and friend
- Build the relationship by planning and participating in activities together
- Strive for mutual respect
- Help set academic and personal goals and work toward accomplishing them
- Address pressing community issues in partnership with mentees
- Have fun
Beyond the personal fulfillment of contributing to the community and an individual, mentors will develop new skills and insights to navigate complex social challenges.
Become a Mentor
Before you begin exploring the programs that are available, consider your own interests and needs. Finding a mentoring program that ignites your passions can require considerable time and reflection–the good news is that there are options for everyone. The following steps will help you identify a mentoring program that is right for you. To help you decide which type of mentoring program suits your interests, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to mentor a young person?
- How much time could I devote to building a relationship?
- To what degree have I considered how age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identities come into play during mentoring?
- How many youth would I like to mentor?
- Would I prefer 1:1 mentoring, group mentoring, or team mentoring?
- In what setting would I like to mentor (in the community, in a school, etc.)?
- Would I like to assist a young person with learning a specific skill, pursuing an interest, or just be a caring adult friend?
- In what ways might my involvement in mentoring address larger societal issues, if any?
Remember to be open and flexible to all the different mentoring programs and focus areas that exist. Once you have reflected on these questions, you are ready to start exploring program options.