Do You Want a Mentor?
Adulthood in America has undergone serious change over the last few decades, and this is evident in the poor outcomes that define adult foster youth. The early milestones of adulthood – finishing education, financial independence from parents, beginning a career – are met with huge barriers for foster youth. A mentor can give a youth assurance that he is not alone in dealing with day-to-day stresses and worries as they tackle these challenges. In fact, current statistics indicate that for youth who have at least one stable adult, such as a mentor, in their lives:
–45% are less likely than their peers to begin using illicit drugs
–59% do better academically
–73% set and attain higher life achievement goals than other kids their age
The goal of the Alliance’s Mentoring Program is to help foster youth make the important and difficult transition from adolescence into adulthood by matching them with a caring, supportive adult. We believe that part of the key to transitioning successfully into adulthood is to make sure that you have the support of a concerned and positive adult role model who can connect a youth to resources, help solve issues, and work on building the youth’s self-confidence and independence.
We know that mentoring, alone, is not the answer for all problems facing our transitioning youth. We do believe, however, that the mentoring process is necessary to create a foundation for baseline support and to enhance our youth’s network of nurturing personal connections. The NextStep Mentoring Program is committed to these efforts and work to assure that all youth we assist have been empowered to succeed!
You can expect that you will be matched with a caring adult who wants to help you navigate through all the challenges you face as you become self-sufficient and independent. This person is volunteering their time to support you. They are not paid to be there, they are there because they care about you as an individual.
You and your mentor will define your relationship to meet your common needs. You will meet in person, talk on the phone, communicate on social media, and stay connected in the way that is best for both of you. Also, the Alliance will host several events for mentors and mentees to get together, share, and enjoy each other.
Our mentors are compassionate, understanding, and resourceful adults who have achieved some level of stability and success in their lives. They come from different backgrounds, lived in different parts of the county, went to different schools. They work in a wide variety of jobs, such as teachers, media executives, publicists, life coaches, lawyers, paralegals, actors and actresses, film makers, reporters…this list goes on-and-on! What is common about them is that they are interested in working with a single youth to help you be successful and independent.
If you are a foster youth interested in a mentor, it is as easy as calling our office, ask to talk to the Mentoring Program Director, and tell us why you want a mentor and what you hope to get out of the relationship. It is that easy!
Are you a good listener? Able to accept ideas and points of view that differ from your own? Understanding and non-judgmental? Respectful of a young person’s right to make his or her own choices? If you said yes to any of those questions you may be an excellent mentor. We are looking for compassionate, understanding, and resourceful adults who are able to make at least one year’s commitment to our program. Mentors have access to our trained staff and support through every step of the process and will work with their mentee in helping them achieve their personal, educational, and career goals.
We are often asked: how much time will this take because I am not sure if I have the time to mentor a foster youth. The answer is that we require that you make time for a three-hour initial mentoring orientation, a one-year commitment to the mentor relationship, attend at least two program activities per year, and communicate with your mentee weekly (a minimum of 2 telephone conversations each month and 2 face-to-face meetings each month). Beyond that, it is up to you how much time you devote to your mentee.