A Network to Help Out Mentor Programs

Adult mentors who work with young people in or out of school can powerfully affect their success in learning, much research has shown. But getting a mentoring program off the ground often proves difficult for schools already swamped with academic demands. The National Mentoring Partnership addresses this problem by providing training and other resources to organizations that want to initiative a mentoring program. It has created formal partnerships with at least twelve states and eighteen cities around the country in an active network that includes many Essential schools.

Mentoring programs often falter, the Partnership says, either because they lack coherence across a community or because they lack standards for what mentors do and how they do it. It offers ways for corporations, civic organizations, communities of faith, and other institutions to create cooperative networks, working together with state and local educators to pair young people with mentors who have received preparation for their role.

The organization’s website (www.mentoring.org) lists extensive suggestions for mentoring activities, and trouble-shooting for the following common problems:

  • Falling short of the number of mentors needed for the youth in a program.
  • Difficulty finding young people willing to commit to a mentoring
  • relationship.
  • Mentoring relationships that prove inappropriate or potentially harmful
  • to the young person.
  • Failure of mentors to follow through on their commitments.
  • Failure of mentoring relationships to continue beyond a short period.
  • Difficulty maintaining contact with mentors and youth after they are
  • matched.
  • Undermining of mentors’ efforts by parents or guardians.
  • The overwhelming nature of developing and managing a mentoring
  • program.
  • Uncertainty about the impact on the young people served by mentors.