CommUNITY Mentoring is aimed to improve the outcomes for at-risk youth and disconnected youth through pairing youth with a caring adult role model, creating opportunities of learning life skills, and providing out of school recreational opportunities. CommUNITY Mentoring will utilize interventions, approaches and development techniques from the “Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring,” which is an evidence-based model. CommUNITY Mentoring will also be provided with technical assistance from Maryland Mentor and Maryland Nonprofits.
CommUNITY Mentoring is a community-based mentoring program that requires recruitment of mentors and a strong leader to further develop the program to include not only disconnected youth, but the new priority of prevention for at-risk youth. The Coordinator will complete an online certificate program in Nonprofit Management to become a strong leader in nonprofit management and volunteer recruitment. The Mentor Coordinator will recruit mentors with diverse backgrounds and ages to ensure there are adults with whom the mentees can relate. This will be an on-going effort of the Coordinator. The mentors will be trained via an online mentoring tool, “Mentoring Central,” which is training based on research-informed services to improve outcomes. New mentors will also be required to have an in-person orientation with the Coordinator. The mentors are required to commit to at least one year and to attend four in-person quarterly trainings. The quarterly training topics will be based on serving at-risk and disconnected youth; the meetings will also provide opportunities for the mentors to network and develop solutions common challenges and barriers of success. An example of a training that will be presented is “Trauma-Informed Mentoring” which is provided from Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership.
Mentors will provide one-to-one mentoring in the community weekly for the at-risk youth. Mentoring will continue serving the disconnected youth in a group mentor model, where at least one mentor has contact with the youth weekly and meets with them bi-monthly in the community. The group mentor model, consisting of at least three mentors, has shown to be effective with the disconnected youth who require a more intensive case management approach. The parents of the at-risk youth will be provided with opportunities of involvement and be an integral part to the success of the youth. The Mentor Coordinator, parent (for the at-risk youth), mentor and mentee will create short-term and long-term goals. Goals for the at-risk youth can include: improvement of attendance rates for school, improvement in grades, employment/career goals, enrollment in college, less disciplinary actions with Department of Juvenile Services and/or school, learning coping strategies, etc. Goals for the disconnected youth can be attaining employment, enrolling in school or finishing school, and becoming more self-sufficient.
The program will have monthly mentee/mentor events to help establish meaningful relationships in addition to the mentee/mentor(s) individual meetings. The monthly events will have an aspect of learning to include “life skills.” Some life skill lessons will be signing up for a bank account, paying bills, interviewing techniques, and learning about different careers. Supplementing the mentoring program activities with these structured youth development skills ensures youth participation even if their mentor(s) is not available, and it can lead to support from other mentors. In addition to the learning lessons, the monthly events may incorporate fun recreational events such as bowling, gaming, going to the movies, playing sports or dining out.
At-risk and disconnected youth have experienced challenging life situations that often require professional help. The mentees and their mentor will be required to attend at least one Local Care Team meeting per year and more, if needed, to ensure all of their developmental needs are being met. This will provide the mentors with guidance on how to support the youth with difficult situations; and provide case management services sometimes needed with these populations. At the Local Care Team meetings, a Family Navigator is provided who can help navigate the systems to ensure the youth are receiving all available services. This Navigator will work with the mentor to ensure all recommendations from the Local Care Team meeting are followed.