INDIANAPOLIS – January is National Mentoring Month and, this year, MENTOR Indiana—a special initiative of Indiana Youth Institute—is celebrating the annual campaign aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults.
“Given the clear benefits of mentoring, 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 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.
Youth who have had mentors 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.
Almost half of today’s young adults report having a mentor in their youth and, over the past several decades, those rates appear to have risen steadily. Research shows that 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. Seventy-nine percent 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.
National Mentoring Month is led by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, the national organization working to expand the quality and quantity of youth mentoring relationships nationwide. Each year since its launch in 2002, National Mentoring Month has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress.
MENTOR Indiana, a strategic initiative of Indiana Youth Institute since 2008, empowers youth champions to deliver quality mentoring across the state of Indiana.