Youth Mentoring@100% means all our boys and girls have a trusted, caring and committed mentor.
Youth Mentoring@100% means all our boys and girls have a trusted, caring and committed mentor.
Inside The Center
Here’s a quick overview of what you will find below.
What Families Face
Short stories from families facing challenges, illustrating the need to address barriers to vital services.
10 Innovations Await
The sidebar menu takes you to ten innovations areas, each one providing projects action team members are implementing to remove barriers to services.
The Root Causes
We provide an overview of why families struggle to access vital services in what we might call “normal times” and in times of public health or economic crisis.
A Pandemic’s Impact on services
A brief review of how the pandemic impacts each county across the state.
Where on Earth
How solutions exist today.
The Center’s Mission
Youth Mentors for 100%
Welcome to the Center for Youth Mentoring@100%, the nation’s first center to provide county and city stakeholders with research, data-driven strategies, insights and support to end the lack of mentor programs on a countywide scale, ensuring all children and youth have access to mentorship programs. Lack of youth mentorship, in a structured and tested model, has been with us for as long as we adults have been raising children on the planet. In the last few decades societies of all sizes have found ways to provide accessible youth mentors to young people.
In modern societies the cause of our woeful lack of mentorship programs can often be tracked down to lack of investment in the human capital and resources to secure the right amount of mentors and staff to make matches between mentors and mentees. In the USA, a country with vast amounts of wealth and resources, we have all the technology and know how to create robust mentorship programs.
One quick online search will overwhelm you with solutions to what we might call the lack of mentorship problem. The enormous number of results shows that there are many people searching for answers, interested in understanding the root causes of communities without youth mentors and how to solve it.
When we begin to “Google it” for results:
What is the role of a mentor: 172,000,000
What does mentorship provide: 23,500,000
Role modeling for youth: 36,700,000
Benefits of being a role model: 309,000,000
Why does my child need a mentor: 92,700,000
“Lack of local mentorship programs are a man-made problem, not an act of nature, requiring human ingenuity to solve.”
— From the book Youth Mentoring@100%: How we ensure all county residents can access youth mentoring programs
Within an internet full of valuable research, inspiring insights and distracting clutter, solutions await you here in the Center for Youth Mentoring@100%. Your introduction to the issues here in the “Center’s Main Hall” will guide you to what we call our ten “Innovation Areas” where action team projects await your review and engagement.
What the Center for Youth Mentoring@100% provides you with are the strategies to ensure, county by county, that systems of youth mentor supports are working effectively to serve all youth. We live in a time of vast knowledge regarding innovations in face-to-face and online mentorship, where the only reason for young people going without easy access to a mentor in your locality is manmade. The human ingenuity you discover here can ensure that 100% survive and thrive.
“A wise and trusted counselor or teacher” is one way to look at the role of a youth mentor. Mentorship can be described as a partnership between people with different life experiences who seek to understand one another. The mentor’s job is supporting the healthy choices a mentee can make in order for him or her to succeed with school, family life, and the formation of a plan for the future.
In the Center for Youth Mentoring@100% we take on a very complicated system with its numerous challenges. We provide an overview of mentoring and mentor systems with all its solvable problems. Get ready to be overwhelmed and also inspired. We will guide you through all the steps to put ideas into action.
In many ways, the experience of mentoring benefits both the mentor and the mentee. A mentor may have more experience and knowledge to share with a younger person, yet a mentee may be able to share with the older person another way of looking at life, through the lens of youth. It could be said that a 14-year-old and a 50-year-old may exist in parallel worlds, yet the mentor/mentee relationships create a unique bond and bridge between two realities, often separated by decades of life experience. For those youth coming from households and communities with few resources, the mentor may be able to introduce the mentee to new insights and possibilities.
“Why are mentors needed? Don’t kids already have them with their families”?
Mentoring has the capacity to transfer knowledge, practical life skills and emotional support. For example, a mentee’s family may not have anyone who graduated from college and therefore might not consider it. A mentor, with the right experience or insights, can introduce a mentee to the value of education in the form of an apprenticeship, vocational ed or higher ed.
There are many forms of mentoring relationships, including those that are based in school, the community or online. We are focused on formal one-on-one mentoring relationships that are structured by organizations with clear guidelines, protocols and boundaries to ensure the safety of the mentee.
What do the data tell us about mentoring?
Some might say that the gold standard in mentoring is Big Brothers Big Sisters, in that they have the most research behind their unique form of mentoring. Potential mentors are screened and receive a background check. Training on youth development is also provided. Once matched, a case worker checks with the mentor, mentee and mentee’s parent. Mentors are asked to make a minimum of a one-year commitment and visit with the child or youth at least twice a month.
Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, conducted a study from 1994–95 monitoring 950 boys and girls nationwide to study the effects of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Out of the 950 children, half were randomly chosen to be matched, and the others were put on a waiting list. According to the study, the matched children met with their Big Brother or Sister about three times a month for a year.
After surveying the children at the beginning of the study and again after 18 months, the researchers found that the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in the program, were:
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
27% less likely to begin using alcohol
52% less likely to skip school
37% less likely to skip a class
33% less likely to hit someone
They also found that the Littles (mentees) were more confident about their performance in schoolwork and got along better with their families.
We’re huge fans of the Big Brothers Big Sisters model (full disclosure, co-author Cappello volunteered as a “Big” — also known as a mentor — for Big Brothers Big Sisters for two years) and would like to see a robust program in every county in the nation. We also acknowledge other forms of mentoring that could be quite effective, and we share models in this chapter. As with all our ten service sectors, we envision a seamless and collaborative system of youth mentoring with one goal: every child who would benefit from a mentor gets one.
About web-based and blended mentoring
Blended mentoring is using information technology (IT) to enhance traditional mentoring programs. It is a brave new world, with a lot of bugs to be worked out. Yet there is also much promise, if we can test and evaluate different web-based models. Some of this type of web-based mentoring could be designed for young adults seeking career counseling or life path options.
Blended mentoring might be a model where a mentee meets a mentor one time, then switches over to web-based mentoring for a mutually agreed upon length of time, with clear objectives and goals.
Web-based mentoring is all online, following the same guidelines as blended mentoring. Technology gives us the opportunity to enlarge mentoring options — safely and with evaluation — to adapt to the changing times.
By incorporating Information Technology solutions (IT) with the traditional mentoring method, students may be able to benefit from the technologies of e-mentoring while also receiving direct and personal attention from the traditional method.
Who could benefit from a mentor?
What do we know about how mentorship can help different types of families. Research noted in “The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring” (2014) and “The Role of Risk: Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles” (2013) suggests that mentors have a powerful positive effect on young people as they grow. Mentoring guarantees that mentees have an adult who cares about them, guides them and helps them as they become adults. Mentors can help our youth pursue personal, academic and career goals. Many of us have natural mentors in the form of family members and neighbors while growing up, and that’s a great thing. However, in your county, research suggests that as many as 1 in 3 young people lack a positive, adult role model while growing up. That needs to be addressed immediately.
Children most in need of a mentor may include those growing up in neighborhoods with few resources, children raised in single-parent and no parent households and children living in remote populations. If we identify where children are receiving free or reduced lunch, we may also identify a strong need for mentoring.
Courageous conversations among all mentoring organizations
Any field we enter will likely have people with polarized views on how to address and solve a problem. With youth mentors, the conversation is not so much about whether youth benefit from mentorship, but what type of mentorship might be best. Mentoring programs can be quite siloed, with little communication with one another (even when they serve the same school or community). We need to create a seamless countywide system of mentorship from K–12 and beyond to vocational ed and college students. We need to understand where the needs are across all socio-economic levels, for long-term one-on-one mentoring programs. We also can explore innovations in web-based mentoring, acknowledging that the digital divide may keep web-based mentorship out of reach for some.
What Families Face
*These are fictionalized profiles based on real New Mexican residents.
Jen and Marie's Story
It’s Time For Heroic Acts
You are about to review approximately twenty projects within 10 innovation areas that can, if done successfully, improve the quality and accessibility of current services. The long-term goal of these innovations and projects is to ensure that 100% of county residents have access to this vital service. Your task is to review all projects, individually and as part of an action team, to identify which one you wish to implement. In the time it takes to enjoy a latte, you can give our menu of innovations a quick read, starting with Innovation #1: Tracking Supply and Demand and ending with Innovation #10: Developing the City Dept. of Youth Mentors. These include projects initiated by action teams focused on a county and all the communities within its borders.
Youth mentoring disparities have a very long history
Lack of youth mentoring is impacting our most vulnerable children and families with consequences that may include adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma and lack of capacity to achieve in school.
WHY NO MENTORS?
LACK OF YOUTH MENTORS HURTS OUR YOUTH
YOUTH MENTORSHIP HAS EVERYTHING to do with the quality of a child’s life. If parents can access youth mentors for their child, children can do better in school and recreation, getting a new perspective on the world. If a youth’s access to youth mentorship is diminished, our young boys and girls miss out on the benefits mentorship can provide.
In a world of colliding crises, change and uncertainty, we require a robust youth mentorship system in every community. The key word is system, because scattered and disconnected public and private agencies, or individuals who offer various forms of mentorship supports, simply won’t get the job done. We must move beyond isolated programs to a well-connected and networked system of support with high professional standards, screening of mentors, training and ongoing support once matches are made.
In the Center for Youth Mentoring@100% we seek to get to real-world solutions. We will guide you through all the steps needed to put ideas for strengthening mentorship programs into action.
We ask about the root causes of kids not having healthy, stable mentors in their lives, throughout their youth.
The reasons are varied:
- Family structures have changed in significant ways over the last few decades.
- Single-parent families are as much the norm as two-parent families.
- Many single-parent families face challenges as a parent balances work and home life.
- Most single-parent families are headed by women, so boys can lack a healthy adult male role model. Most boys are very curious about men and wonder what it means to be one. A mentor can answer that question by just being a good guy — communicative, interested and engaged.
- Girls may have lots of questions about their future selves, especially if they want a different life from their mom, and having another perspective in addition to a mom’s can be very helpful.
- For two parent families, there can still be a need for outside mentorship. Sometimes, due to circumstances related to job stresses, money, mental health, substance misuse or emotional capacity, even two parents may have a difficult time always being role models.
- Teens may have to leave an unsafe household due to abusive and neglectful adult behaviors, leaving them without resources and healthy adult mentors, nor the awareness of how to access one.
- Kids today are like youth throughout history, entering phases where they just don’t relate to one parent or both. That outside mentor, if it’s the right fit, can provide a way for a child or teen to express him or herself. So much of what happens in mentorship is not about talking (though that’s important), it’s about just hanging out and feeling listened to and respected. And if that mentor can bring new ways of looking at the world and new ways to approach problem-solving, mentorship is successful.
An urgent need
As for why youth mentorship is needed, the answers are easy to identify. Without support from outside the family, some youth may struggle with a wide variety of challenges including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and social adversity (including under resourced schools, unsafe neighborhoods, high rates of unemployment among parents, substance misuse and untreated mental health challenges). Having a trusted adult to talk with, or just hang out with outside the home environment, can have a positive impact on young people enduring ACEs or trauma in their homes. All those engaged in youth mentorship will benefit from learning more about the impact of ACEs on children, students and parents. We recommend you read Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment.
Fast forward to your reality today: With data from the 100% New Mexico survey and other sources, you have a good idea about where the need for youth mentors may exist in your county, and that’s why it’s difficult to access for both parents. While global, national and state data on mentorship are very interesting and instructive, the real data that informs your work are generated by your 100% New Mexico initiative work diving deep into local neighborhoods. That said, you may be surprised by your survey results and learn that a challenge is far bigger or smaller or more localized than you originally thought.
But wait, google says there are answers!
With literally millions of people reading articles on the power of mentorship and thousands of foundations, governmental and non-governmental organizations focusing for decades on supporting mentorship programs in their many forms, why is access to youth mentors still so prevalent across fifty states? Why might a single mom, struggling to keep her son’s grades up, not be linked automatically to a mentorship program that can focus on academic achievement? Why might a parent with involvement with child protective services not automatically be linked to quality mentorship programs and supports for their children? Why do parents working full time not have enough money to pay for private mentorship activities? In a pandemic, can we afford to have any child or youth struggling with isolation, school work or social adversity without a way to access youth mentors?
We don’t mean to question our good-hearted leaders in political, academic and philanthropic circles, but there appears to be a complete disconnect between those who claim to have answers and the actual implementation of solutions to ensure 100% of our residents are able to access youth mentorship programs? What are our morals, ethics and values that allow lack of mentorship programs shown to strengthen childhoods to exist amid so much abundance?
What kind of society would allow a policy of benign neglect to doom entire zip codes to lack of youth mentors? Why should our most vulnerable parents ever endure anxiety about raising a child, when having a long term mentor can help address challenges facing all our boys and girls? If we ever needed a public and private sector solution to lack of stable mentorship programs, this is the moment.
Truly, why are we all not asking in loud public forums, “What is the root cause of lack of mentorship impacting our urban and rural communities in the US?”
Youth mentors are what we call a “thriving service” (alongside our services for survival). In our 100% New Mexico initiative, we focus on ensuring youth mentors across a county, serving all the communities within its borders. Simply put, problems related to lack of mentors can generally stand in the way of safe childhoods and high functioning students.
What We Know
Our county survey will tell you why families may struggle to access youth mentorship programs. Reasons include lack of programs, cost, lack of awareness of the benefits of such programs, and unaware of programs.
Who Lacks a Mentor?
LACK OF MENTORSHIP HAS MANY CAUSES
With all the research we have on the power of youth mentors, and state-of-the-art technology delivering empowering and educational experiences streaming into homes and mobiles, it seems inconceivable that parents in our country should suffer from lack of youth mentorship.
In fact, the reality on the ground has been, up to now, difficult to gauge when it comes to specifically measuring what we might call mentorship program disparities in communities. Do lots of our youth lack an adult in a mentoring role to speak with about ACEs or social adversity due to lack of youth mentorship programs? This is an important question, but the real question is, “What does lack of mentorship look like?” A mom walking down a supermarket aisle with her pre-teen son may not conjure up images of the costs of lack of mentorship. However, we don’t know what stresses that mom is under. Is she single or has a partner? Is there domestic abuse in the home or are ACEs occuring? Does the son feel isolated and without someone to speak with? We have no idea if the boy is struggling in school or having a tough time making friends. We don’t know if that mom is overwhelmed because she was just laid off and is trying to find a new way to pay the bills, including car repairs. The bottom line is that we have no idea what children and youth endure, yet we do know how positive it would be for them to have a trusted mentor to guide and support them. We do know that parents report those children that do get mentors are happy to see the positive relationships grow.
What percentage of people lacking access to youth mentors is acceptable to you and your elected leaders? How does a pandemic impact the question of how difficult access to youth mentorship programs may be in both rural and urban communities? Would you be okay being wait times for accessing youth mentors is months? Should any boy or girl, anywhere in your county, face barriers to vital youth mentorship programs?
WE ASK: WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF LACK OF YOUTH MENTORSHIP?
Our list covers a range of problems that can be solved.
You might be asking, “Lots of parents pay for all types of programs that provide forms of mentorship. Why can’t others?” Plus, many youth mentoring programs are free. What’s the problem with access? Lots of reasons.
- Financial catastrophe: People lose their jobs for a variety of reasons all the time, often due to circumstances outside of their control. A sudden illness, either physical or mental, can also catastrophically knock out an income stream, forcing hard choices at the end of the month. Paying for youth programs might not be a priority.
- Relationship catastrophe: Breakups and divorce throw entire families into an unstable situation, especially if one partner was dependent on the other’s income for transportation. We note here that break ups between parents can be a form of ACEs, with traumatizing impact.
- Low wages: Employers don’t have to pay wages that would allow a full time worker to afford mentoring programs. Unexpected bills or taxes often mean there’s no money at the end of some months for youth programs. Add to this that some youth programs depend on the parent to engage with it and that might be too big an ask in chaotic times, with a mom or dad stretched too thin.
- Job availability: There are not enough well-paying jobs for everyone who wants one, hence no money for youth programs and lots of increased stress in the home due to money worries.
- Chronic mental health issues: Parents with untreated mental health challenges can’t always hold down full time jobs or have the capacity to organize their kids so they can access mentorship programs.
- Teens in insecure situations: Teen having to leave unsafe home environments often find themselves without the awareness of youth mentorship programs or capacity to engage with them.
Data Guide Us
Fast forward to your reality today: With data from the 100% New Mexico survey and other sources, you have a good idea about where the need for youth mentor programs may exist in your county and that’s why it’s difficult to access for both parents and caregivers. While global, national and state data on mentoring are very interesting and instructive, the real data that informs your work are generated by your 100% New Mexico initiative work diving deep into local neighborhoods. That said, you may be surprised by your survey results and learn that a challenge is far bigger or smaller or more localized than you originally thought.
Ensuring Services: A Local Challenge
People face different levels of hardship and risk during a pandemic directly related to their level of access to the 10 vital services for surviving and thriving. Inaccessible medical care, a lack of housing and food programs, and greatly increased joblessness during the associated economic downturn take a tremendous toll on families. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A Pandemic’s Impact on Services
Vital Questions Require Answers
In so-called “normal” times before the COVID-19 pandemic, health disparities were a fixture of our society. The pandemic has only increased the stresses on the health care systems as well as created more urgency for people to have timely access to prevention and treatment. The most pressing questions for your city, county and state elected leaders and stakeholders include:
- How do we collect, analyze and publish the most timely data to guide prevention strategies?
- How do we ensure enough COVID-19 tests and testing sites?
- How do we ensure providers have the protective equipment required to be safe?
- How do we ensure enough contact tracing?
- How do we prevent homelessness and hunger if people in lock down or quarantine lose their job?
- How do we strengthen mask-wearing and social distancing?
- How do we ensure treatment, both hospital beds and providers?
- How do we distribute the vaccine with buy-in from the public?
- How do we address depression and trauma by ensuring access to behavioral health care?
- How are vital family services for surviving and thriving made accessible to 100% of residents?
As you can see, question #10 places access to ten vital services into a comprehensive state and local strategy to prevent the pandemic. The 100% New Mexico initiative’s framework for ending barriers to services is vital and our work is urgently needed in each county. New Mexico State Senator Bill Soules, PhD, wrote in his Op-ed in the Las Cruces Sun News, “100% New Mexico: A model for COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment”:
“…an effective response to the pandemic goes beyond the medical sector. The countywide response required ten accessible services, allowing families to keep stabilized, supported, fed and housed, in order to comply with the state’s public health guidelines and to endure quarantining, isolating, social distancing and mask-wearing.”
We can happily report that many localities across the nation and globe have successfully ensured robust youth mentorship programs which may include a combination of public and private sector solutions.
Where on earth?
Where has this challenge been fixed?
Youth Mentors@100% is looking at tested youth mentorship models solutions, focused on innovations, projects, policies and programs implemented in large and small cities around the world.
If you have come this far, you know that ensuring youth mentorship in your community starts with knowing the magnitude of the problems youth face, including high rates of community substance misuse, domestic violence, child maltreatment and unemployment.
We present a challenge to you, your local business people and government leaders: Create a seamless countywide system of youth mentorship programs so every boy and girl gets the mentorship they need to thrive.
As you will see below, we have offered only a sliver of what’s out there in terms of innovations that have been shown to reduce mentorship disparities and to empower parents and youth to find a path to secure mentors. Some models have been with us for decades and are tried, true and evaluated strategies. Some are quite new and merit experimentation and their own evaluation. We do not lack solutions, just the political will to implement them.
Three important frameworks
As we say in 100% Community, we want to reference the data-driven framework called Continuous Quality Improvement and its four phases: assessment, planning, action and evaluation (100% Community, Chapter 29). This four-step process will guide your development of innovations in the arena of youth mentors. And, as a reminder, you will want to use Collective Impact (100% Community, Chapter 31) to organize your project and Adaptive Leadership (100% Community, Chapter 30) to determine if the particular challenge you seek to solve is technical, with established protocols for moving forward, or adaptive, where you are entering new uncharted territory without a clear path.
Designing a Countywide System
The past: How did we get to this point of needing family-friendly youth mentorship programs? Who exactly needs services to be “family-friendly” anyway? What are the problems the system is supposed to solve? Why don’t people just figure out the systems on their own? Can’t everyone find transportation to get to mentorship program in a timely manner?
The present (action agenda): Within this subject, we’ve identified ten strategies — called innovation areas — that can be used to tackle the affordable youth mentor access problem. Within those we suggest about twenty 100% New Mexico initiative projects that you (yes, you) can take on, thus propelling your community towards accessible youth mentors in its many forms.
The future (goals): With enough work on these innovations/projects, we’ll get to the point where Innovation #10 — the creation of a City/County Department of Youth Mentors becomes a reality. With a state-of-the-art system of parent supports in place, 100% of our county’s families could report excellent support and service.
Since we are currently in the present creating the future, your commitment to innovation is most eagerly sought and needed.
Partnerships and teamwork
At the heart of innovation are change agents implementing data-driven projects shown to fix barriers to services.
10 INNOVATIONS TO EXPLORE
CHANGE AGENTS NEEDED NOW
The following innovations represent strategies that have the capacity to increase access to youth mentorship programs to ensure our families are able to get to vital services in order to be healthy, safe and successful.
As you will see as you explore Innovations #1–#10, a countywide system of youth mentorship programs engages all stakeholders within the county’s borders that include data specialists, the private sector, technology experts, public awareness specialists, public and private youth mentorship agencies, city mayors, council members and county commissioners. Your work will be groundbreaking as it unites leaders in all sectors to achieve one goal: youth mentors for 100%.