Many companies across America and internationally have embraced the concept of engaging in youth mentoring programs. Larger companies include Eli Lilly, Allstate Insurance Company with its extensive Helping Hands project, and General Electric Corporation. Much smaller companies such as Webster Bank with branches in CT, RI and MA are involved in releasing employees to serve as mentors, in this case in the schools where their bank branches are located.
Companies that engage in youth mentoring programs sanction "work release" during the work day for their employees to volunteer as mentors for a youth, known as a mentee at a specific location or in the community. The minimum requirement is one hour each week for a year of mentor/mentee sessions. Youth mentoring programs follow quality assurance standards to ensure maximum protection for mentors and mentees.
- Help to guide a young person toward completion of high school,
- Support post-secondary and employment opportunities, and
- Help to improve their self esteem, academic performance and peer relationships.
In short, mentors are helping to prepare our future workforce.
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I have never witnessed a more powerful initiative to make a difference in the lives of young people today than mentoring. Youth mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship. The mentor offers encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee. A non-profit agency partners with a company to initiate and implement the program.
Regardless of the program design or age of the youth being mentored, a mentor’s primary role is to serve as the mentee’s guide, friend and advocate. Often mentors help to guide a young person toward completion of high school, support post-secondary and employment opportunities, and help to improve their self esteem, academic performance and peer relationships. A mentor is not a teacher or other professional or parent. Mentors are helping to prepare our future workforce.
Corporate Engagement in Mentoring
Companies thinking of designing a youth mentoring program should:
- Obtain top management approval and get them involved.
- Identify one person in the company, typically from Human Resources, Community or Public Relations or the Foundation who serves as the liaison with a partnering agency.
- Secure release time from supervisors for employees to mentor.
- Recruit potential mentors and ask them to complete an application process.
- Screen employees including a criminal background check to ensure maximum protection for the program, company, mentors and youth.
- Select employees to mentor who possess ideal characteristics. Not all employees make good mentors.
- Conduct initial and on-going training in conjunction with the partnering agency.
- Monitor and support mentor/mentee sessions.
- Recognize company mentors for their efforts.
- Bring closure to matches when appropriate.
- Evaluate the program to determine its impact.
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In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll look at more options in youth mentoring–plus check out a great resource for employee leadership training.