What Is a Mentor?
A mentor is a caring and responsible adult who takes time to be a friend to a young person. A mentor listens, supports, and guides a young person on a consistent basis over a specified period of time, usually at least one year. Mentors are volunteers in your community who know that young people can make a positive difference in the world if given the chance.
A mentor develops this friendship with a young person—whom we call a “mentee”— in order to help him (or her) be successful at home, at school, and in the community. By developing this positive relationship, a mentor can:
- Help a young person define and achieve his own goals
- Help a young person improve in school
- Nurture a young person’s self-confidence and positive self-esteem
- Listen to a young person and help her solve problems
- Introduce the young person to new ideas, activities, and opportunities
Mentors are not meant to take the role of parent, guardian, or teacher. A mentor is not a disciplinarian or decision maker for a child. A mentor’s main role is to spend time with the child doing positive and fun activities that help the mentee become more self-confident. By doing this, the mentor becomes part of the team of caring adults who support the healthy development of your child: parents, relatives, teachers, coaches, faith leaders, and friends.
A mentor is a . . .
- Role model
- Resource for new ideas and opportunities
- Someone your child can talk to
A mentor is not a . . .
- Social worker
- Cool peer
- Parole officer
- Source of money
Why Does My Child Need a Mentor?
All children need the support of caring adults in order to be successful, not only within their family but at school and in their communities. Growing up isn’t easy, and there are many roadblocks along the way that can cause difficulties for children. Sometimes parents don’t have all the answers, and sometimes children need someone outside the family with whom to share their thoughts. Having a variety of people positively involved in a child’s life provides her with new opportunities and experiences that will help her grow and gain self confidence.
You may be able to think of adults — a teacher, a coach, a pastor — who helped you out when you were a child, encouraging you through rough spots along your road to adulthood, or just showing you a new way to look at your world. Although this may not have been a formal mentoring relationship, this person was a mentor for you.
A mentor can give your child another person to talk to — a safe, concerned, and responsible friend who can help sort out a problem or just listen and be supportive. A mentor can also help your child thrive in school by encouraging her in her studies and after-school activities, and by getting her to think about her future goals and dreams.
Who Serves as Mentors?
Mentors are as varied as the people in our community, but they all share in their desire to make a positive difference in the life of a young person. Nationally, 18 percent of all volunteers — 11.5 million Americans — are involved in some kind of mentoring activity with young people. Many volunteer mentors are young people themselves, but over 40 percent are between the ages of 41 and 59. Mentors are likely to be working full time, taking time from their workday to volunteer.
Generator’s Maker Mentor Program has mentors who are architects, engineers, designers, and developers. We pull from our community of tech professionals, craftspersons, artists, and entrepreneurs to build a diverse pool of mentors. Mentors are carefully screened and selected, and they receive initial and ongoing training so that they are ready to work with your child.
What Will Mentoring Accomplish for My Child?
Research shows that having positive and ongoing support from several caring adults other than family members contributes to children’s healthy development and can help them become more self-confident.1 Mentoring can help children improve their grades and attitudes about school. Mentoring may also help students improve their classroom behavior, reduce absences, and increase self-confidence. And having a mentor can also help things go more smoothly at home as the child experiences more successes and becomes more confident.
Mentees who are part of Generator’s Maker Mentor Program not only enjoy the companionship of their mentor and the activities they share, but also learn and grow from the experience.
The particular ways that your own child may benefit from the mentoring relationship will depend on his needs, strengths, and many other factors. Sometimes the benefits of mentoring aren’t visible right away, but over time this friendship can help your child gain new skills and experiences that will last a lifetime.
Our goal is to help mentees build STEAM skills and provide internships and other professional opportunities, as they become more confident in their abilities.
How Do I Know the Program Is Safe?
We know that you’re putting your trust in our program and in the mentor we assign to your child. In partnership with MentorVT, we screen our potential mentors using researched best practices to ensure the safety of your child.
Everyone who wants to be a volunteer mentor begins by filling out an extensive application and has at least one interview with a staff member. Candidates go through a screening process that includes a criminal history background check using local and national resources. We also gather driving records and talk to personal references and employers.
Candidates who pass these steps go to a program orientation. This gives us another chance to see them in a group setting and to get to know them better. And before volunteers are matched they attend a longer training session about working with young people that includes information about child safety.
Safety doesn’t stop when the mentor is matched with a child. In fact, our work is really just beginning. Our staff checks in with all mentors, mentees, and parents or guardians as long as the match is active. You can expect to hear from our staff at least once a month — more often in the first few months. These check-ins help us see how things are going and if there is anything we can do to help the relationship develop. We also encourage you to email or call your Mentorship Coordinator any time you have a concern or question.
We are confident that our volunteer screening procedures and the program rules and guidelines we have developed ensure that our program is safe for your child. We ask all our parents to help keep it this way by:
- Reviewing Generator’s Maker Mentor Policies and Procedures
- Not approving any activities outside of those that the program has approved (for example, an unscheduled weekend trip or an invitation for an overnight visit to the mentor’s home).
- Talking to your child about how to stay safe and reminding them to follow your own safety rules when they are away from home.
- Keeping the lines of communication between you and your child open so that they feel comfortable letting you know if there’s a problem.
- Reporting any concerns to the mentoring program staff immediately, such as a change in your child’s behavior or a concern about how the match is progressing.
Generator prides itself on its record of having no incidents of child abuse or other unsafe incidents. Mentors are a wonderful addition to the lives of the children we serve. With your help we can be sure that all children in our mentoring program receive the benefits of a caring and responsible mentor.