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Mentoring Q & A

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is a caring individual who is committed to playing a positive role in the life of a young person.  Mentors spend approximately one hour per week engaging in various activities with their mentees.  Mentors tend to serve as a friend or a coach in the lives of their mentees.  It is important to remember that a mentor is NOT a therapist, savior or second parent and should not be focused upon "fixing" the life of his or her mentee.

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Mentor?

While there is no such thing as a "perfect" mentor, successful mentors are often those who have both the time and energy to commit to a regular meeting schedule and can follow through with their commitments.  Good mentors are flexible, have healthy boundaries and are both patient and self-aware.  They also tend to have great communication skills and are enthusiastic about being a positive role model in the life of a young person. 
 

What is the Process for Becoming a Mentor?

Though the process varies from program to program, it generally begins with a mentor application that often includes a confidentiality agreement, a rights and responsibilities form, an interest survey and a thorough background check and interview.  An orientation and training session will often occur before your are matched with a mentee.  To find a mentoring program in your community, please visit our online directory of certified mentoring programs or contact the Iowa Mentoring Partnership at
mentor@iowa.gov or 1-800-308-5987, to be connected with a certified mentoring program in your area.

How Can I Start a Mentoring Program?

Begin by identifying current mentoring efforts in your area and consider whether your organization can partner with an existing, high-quality mentoring program.  Because poorly supported mentoring matches oftentimes have more negative consequences for mentees than if they had not had a mentor at all, operating a mentoring program requires a serious, long-term commitment from all involved . 

Consider the following tips before starting:

1) Be realistic: Mentoring programs should not be a mere "add-on" to an existing programs.  They are programs within themselves and require the support of dedicated staff members.

2) Understand the cost of mentoring:  Each year, community-based programs spend an average of $1,114 per youth (P/PV, Contemporary Issues in Mentoring).  Depending on the number of mentor-mentee matches you're considering, you will also need to identify the staff resources that will be required for matching mentors and mentees, training new mentors and supporting existing matches.

3) Think small: Develop a small pilot project with less than 15 mentor-mentee matches.  Starting small will help you refine your services without compromising program quality.

4) Utilize existing resources: Visit the National Mentoring Partnership's website (www.mentoring.org) to obtain valuable resources specifically designed for new programs or contact the Iowa Mentoring Partnership at mentor@iowa.gov to arrange a site visit.



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