How to Start a Youth Mentoring Program

Young people look for someone who will give them insight into life. This is the role of a mentor. It is important for a mentor to have the young person’s best interest at heart. Since most young people like to learn from someone who accepts them for who they are, the mentor must genuinely like young people and want to be a positive part of their lives. Adults need to be willing to help young people find the answers to some of life’s difficult questions. Teens and older children usually like to hear what adults have to share.

Mentoring gives a way to invest what you have learned into the next generation. Young people need guidance to face the world because it is a daunting place. Bringing a positive influence into a young life may have a profound effect deep into future generations.

It is not hard to become a mentor. You must really enjoy the company of young people. Young people look for people who will accept and like them. They have a natural desire to be a part of a group and feel like they belong. This makes them easy for a mentor to engage.

A mentoring program implies there will be more than one mentor and multiple young people. There are two basic ways to start. First, find a young person that you can have regular interaction with as a friend. It is best if you make the parents of the youth aware of what you are doing. You do not want to appear to be a predator.

Develop some type of program with an activity. Sports work well. Playing games or shopping will work, also. Set time aside either after or before the activity for discussing life situations. You do not need a lot of time for this. In fact, mentoring works well if you mentor for less than 30 minutes and have 30 minutes to an hour for activity.

Actually, it is the activity that promotes bonding to make the mentoring effective. Plan what you will discuss. Be prepared for times when the discussion may take a meaningful tangent. One mentor can work with up to about 6 youth at the same time. By encouraging the first youth to recruit friends, you can often reach a group of 3 to 5 within a month or so.

To expand the group into a program, you will need to go a slightly different route. Recruit a small group of good people to serve as mentors. Create some written guidelines of what to do and what not to do. Do background checks. These are not extremely pricey unless you go through the FBI. These checks then might cost you $50 to $100 each. Using a simple driver’s license or social security number check can often be accomplished for $15 to $25 each.

Eventually, you will want to contact someone like Family Services or the school counselor, and let them help you find possible candidates. They will let the candidates know of your work. If there is interest, they will give their clients your information.

Most of the time, this way will take some time to get started. It will move forward quickly if you are offering quality. Within a year you should have about 4 or 5 times as many young people as mentors. You can expand the program by enlisting additional mentors. Along the way, you may need to shuffle some young people from mentor to mentor to find the best fit.