Primary Sources: A Practical Look at How to Balance the Elements of a Mentoring Program

Three teen girls giving the thumbs-up gesture.

GirlPOWER! Strengthening Mentoring Relationships Through a Structured, Gender-Specific Program” (abstract), New Directions for Youth Development, Vol. 39 No. 12, December 2010. 

What it's about: The authors describe how they designed and piloted GirlPOWER!, a year-long series of monthly workshops that brings together teen girls and their mentors along with a staff moderator. The program was piloted with 20 girls at a local Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Sessions were designed to provide greater structure for mentors and mentees as well as learning experiences directly aimed at girls. 

Why read it: The article gives an inside look into the process of designing a program that provides structure and well-thought-out learning objectives while also nurturing relationships between mentors and mentees. 

Biggest take away for youth workers: The authors found that gathering input and feedback from participants was key to striking a balance between structure and relationship building as well as to honoring the sometimes competing goals of menteees, mentors and program designers. For example, when participants asked for more time to socialize, the program designers made lunchtime longer. That change resulted in less time for structured activities, but also more positive feedback from mentors and mentees.

Additional reference: In "Striking the Right Balance for Effective Mentoring Relationships," NCFY wrote about the framework the authors of this article used  to analyze their program. For more information on building effective mentoring relationships, including tips on building trust, read this article from The Community Toolbox.

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of this and other publications.) 




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