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WHAT’S IN A MENTOR?

THE HOWS AND WHYS OF CREATING A MENTOR PROGRAM

creating student mentorship program

Mentor programs drive the world toward a better tomorrow.

If Shakespeare was alive today he’d probably have something epic to say about mentor programs like, “What’s in a mentor? That which we call an adviser by any other name would be as invaluable.” Meaning, call them what you like: coach, guide, mentor, teacher, tutor; but, no matter the title they go by, the right mentor can transform a child’s education, as well as their future.

Oprah Winfrey once said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Imagine being the person who helps a student find their hope and discover their passions in life. Mentorship programs provide you with precisely that opportunity. When paired with the right mentor, a mentee is given the key to a world of possibilities.

Many mentorship programs focus on developing academic, career, employability, and social skills.

These are all areas where a mentor’s experience greatly benefits a mentee. Just as there are many focus areas, there are also several styles of mentoring programs: one-to-one mentoring, e-mentoring, peer mentoring, team mentoring, and group mentoring. While all of these are perfectly successful types of mentoring programs, we’re going to take a deeper dive into what comprises successful one-to-one and group mentoring methods.

What goes into a one-to-one mentoring model?

Developing a better mentoring program

This type of mentoring pairs one adult with one young person to guide and advise the mentee. Group mentoring programs consist of one adult advising a few mentees, usually three to four. This group dynamic creates an opportunity for socialization as well as learning skills.

Whether you are building a one-to-one mentoring program or a group mentoring program, the core components needed are the same. To create a mentoring program, you need to plan for the following:

  • Setting participation requirements for eligibility, and enrollment (for mentors and mentees)
  • How to attract mentors and mentees to the program and match them
  • Building program activities and guidelines
  • Keeping your program secure
  • Tracking the program’s effectiveness

When establishing program requirements for eligibility and enrollment, determine what works best for each category of mentoring.

if a student is seeking help with their school work, odds are they may not have the best grades. In this case, requiring participants to have a certain GPA or higher would be ineffective and leave out the students who need the most help. Alternatively, if the program is focusing on career skills, requiring students to keep their grades up to continue participation is a good way to teach them how to effectively manage their time.

As for the mentor requirements, be sure they are qualified to be advising students in the particular subject focus. Be specific about how much experience you would like them to have in order to mold the minds of the future.

Recruiting mentors and mentees is what will keep your program running.

A simple way to start selecting mentors is by reaching out to any professionals you may know to see if they would be interested in joining your mentoring program. Inquire with schools to see if you can advertise your mentoring program in their newsletter, on bulletin boards, and in morning announcements. Once you’ve done that, use the power of social media, the internet, and Google Grants to reach a wider audience of potential mentors and mentees.

Want to learn how you can take advantage of Google's Ad Grant program, gaining access to $120,000 in yearly paid search credits?

Collect information up front to ensure protégés are matched with the best possible mentor.

To properly match mentors and protégés, include a survey in your program application to gather information regarding interests, schedules, location, etc. By collecting this data, you can pair mentees with advisers that can maximize their engagement in the program.

Decide how you want your program to function. This includes how long advising sessions should be, how the mentor and mentee should communicate, and how frequently they should meet. It is also important to determine how long the program should be. Your program can be year-round, or it can follow a school’s semester/trimester schedule. To determine the program’s length, include a question in your application to see how long members would be interested in participating.

Keeping your program secure is of the utmost importance, especially when students are involved. As part of the mentor application process, conduct background checks. Services like Sterling Volunteers and Checkr conduct background checks for you. VOMO integrates with both background check tools allowing you to keep track of mentor clearance statuses in your Admin Dashboard.

Things to consider when surveying throughout the program experience:

  • First survey: gather information around their expectations, their commitment level, their interests
  • Second survey: gather feedback on their experience and any observations they have to help improve the experience
  • Third survey: gain insights into their biggest takeaways from the program, what would drive them to be a mentor again and any future interest

Keep feedback to be as open-ended as possible. Limiting answers to “yes” or “no” can provide an answer, but limits you to any applicable insight beyond those direct answers.

Measure your mentor program’s effectiveness throughout the program, as well as after it ends.

Create a series of three surveys for both mentors and mentees to complete before, in the middle, and at the end of your program. The first survey can be part of the application and its intent is to gather information around what they hope to get out of the program. The second survey is to check the pulse of their experience. And the third is to gather their input and feedback on their overall experience.

VOMO helps you achieve all of these steps with ease.

When you start your mentoring program through VOMO, you are streamlining all of your administrative tools in one place. You can conduct applications and surveys using the VOMO Forms Feature. Conduct background checks right from your Admin Dashboard with our background check integration tools.

You can create mentor program Project Pages where mentors and mentees can register for meeting times. The best part? You can keep track of their hours from the same place you do all of your mentor/mentee volunteer management.

Start a conversation with a VOMO Mentor Program expert.