January is National Mentoring Month, and MENTOR Indiana, a special initiative of Indiana Youth Institute, is celebrating the annual campaign aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities, connecting more of our community’s young people with caring adults.
“Now more than ever, our kids need a network of caring supportive adults. This month we are celebrating the programs and individuals who are already engaged in quality mentoring activities while also looking to increase engagement through our state,” said Dr. Tami Silverman, IYI’s president and CEO.
Caring, empathetic, and dedicated adults who serve as mentors can be vital guides to help kids successfully transition into adulthood. Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to strive and thrive, to attend and engage in school, and to reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use.
In turn, these young people are:
- 55% more likely to be enrolled in college
- 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities
- 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.
- More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.
Yet, the same research shows that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor. Over the past several decades, 18- to 29-year-olds are more than twice as likely to cite having had a mentor in their childhood than those over 50. This growth is encouraging. However, there are still many adults who may be interested in mentoring but are not yet engaged with a quality program, and hundreds of Hoosier children still missing out on mentoring’s benefits.
Not all mentoring programs are beneficial, and some well-intentioned, yet poorly structured, programs can have negative impacts on kids. MENTOR outlines essential guidance for strong mentoring programs, including:
- Programs must set clear expectations for both the mentors and the mentees
- Screening needs to include an application, securing a mentor’s commitment, and scheduling of regular face-to-face meetings.
- Screening best practices include an in-person interview, a reference check, and a criminal background check.
- Mentor training should be provided prior to the match, helping to increase the likelihood of creating positive matches.
- Finally, mentorship training and support throughout the relationship is essential.
Mentoring programs are operated by many different organizations and agencies. 79% of youth mentoring agencies are nonprofits, 9% are in K-12 schools or districts, 3% are in government agencies, 3% are in higher education institutions, and the remaining 6% are based in religious institutions, for-profits, healthcare facilities, businesses, and others.
Quality mentoring programs can be found throughout Indiana. To find a program near you, go to https://www.iyi.org/mentor-indiana/.
National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is highest. With the support of the mentoring community, we are encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement – and become involved in real life. Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through those real life decisions.
National Mentoring Month is led by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with support from the Highland Street Foundation. Each year since its launch in 2002, National Mentoring Month has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress. Other prominent individuals who have participated in the campaign include: Maya Angelou, former President Bill Clinton, Clint Eastwood, Quincy Jones, Cal Ripken Jr.,Bill Russell and Usher.
MENTOR Indiana, a strategic initiative of the Indiana Youth Institute since 2008, empowers youth champions to deliver quality mentoring across the state of Indiana.
About the Indiana Youth Institute:
For three decades, the Indiana Youth Institute has supported the youth services field through innovative trainings, critical data, and capacity-building resources, aiming every effort at increasing the well-being of all children. To learn more about the Indiana Youth Institute, visit www.iyi.org, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.