Ask NCFY: Starting a Mentoring Program

A young woman with her mentor.

Q: There are a lot of young people in my community who could really benefit from having a mentor. How can I start a mentoring program?

A: Before you decide to start a program, research what mentoring programs may already be available in your area. You can call your local United Way or dial 211 to find out what kinds of youth services already exist. You may decide to volunteer with another program first before starting your own.

One more reason to find out what services exist in your area is that you may want to collaborate with established nonprofit to add a mentoring component to services they already provide. The advantage of such collaboration is that the other organization will have much of the necessary infrastructure in place, like nonprofit status, support staff, a board of directors and insurance.

If you do decide to strike out on your own, the first resource we'd encourage you to look at is NCFY's "Guide to Starting and Managing a Youth Program," which includes helpful information on drafting missions, implementing evaluation procedures and identifying funding sources. The guide is one of our most popular publications, and we're working on updating it with even more information.

The National Mentoring Partnership has a whole section of its website devoted to starting a youth mentoring program, with resources on program design and planning; recruiting, training and supporting mentors; and matching mentors and mentees to improve the odds of a successful match.

A helpful toolkit on the site, "Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring" is available in both English and Spanish and includes tools, templates and practical advice for creating quality mentoring programs.

For new funding opportunities and resources, make sure that you've subscribed to our monthly newsletter, Youth Initiatives Update, and to the RSS feed for our funding opportunities page.

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