Mentoring is one of the key roles that YouthBuild programs fill for youth participants, whether formally or informally. The impact of a caring adult on the success of Opportunity Youth is well documented and the YouthBuild Mentoring model has been shown to have beneficial impacts. For programs not currently using a formal mentoring practice, the information below may help to guide and focus mentoring efforts.
According to mentoring.org, mentoring is incredibly impactful for at-risk youth and can make the difference between graduating from high school or dropping out. John Jay College of Criminal Justice undertook a survey evaluation of YouthBuild programs and participants using the YouthBuild Mentoring model. According to the report of this evaluation, Ready for Success: A Profile of YouthBuild Mentoring Students, the close relationship fostered between mentors and mentees can lead to participants being more enthusiastic, more self-confident, and more likely to complete the YouthBuild program and go on to positively impact their communities. Many participants reported feeling they had potential to achieve academically, economically, and socially due to the role of YouthBuild in their lives. A crucial part of mentoring is supporting career preparation by coaching participants on soft skills, exposing youth to potential employment opportunities, and offering ongoing transition support to program graduates. As of June 2019, 68 percent of mentoring participants from programs funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) mentoring grants between 2016 and 2019 were placed in jobs or post-secondary education (YouthBuild USA National Mentoring Alliance).
Since 2009, YouthBuild USA has designed and implemented an evidence-based YouthBuild Mentoring (YBM) model originating from the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring. One of the goals of YBM is to create a field of YouthBuild programs committed to the belief that a caring mentor is a birthright. Success is determined by mentored YouthBuild participants who graduate, successfully transition to a career and/or post-secondary education, and return to the YouthBuild program to mentor other participants.
Over 90 YouthBuild programs have been trained on the mentoring model and have access to online resources on the YouthBuild USA National Mentoring Alliance Community of Practice to strengthen their practice and sustain the program in the event of staff turnover. Specific resources that focus on mentoring participants towards career and post-secondary education goals are included. For example, an e-learning module, What’s Next? Introduction to Post-Secondary Education Planning, was designed to help mentors and mentees learn about options for pursuing education after YouthBuild, and What’s Next? College Knowledge helps mentees explore the elements and attitudes needed for a successful transition to college.
Be sure to check out the recording for the DOL YouthBuild Webinar, Mentoring: Employer and Alumni Engagement for Program Success, held on September 10, 2019. On this webinar, Corey Manning, the Director of Mentoring at YouthBuild USA, discussed the connection that the YBM model has to alumni and employer engagement, placement, and retention, as well as how DOL YouthBuild programs can develop the YBM model at their site.