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. In order for a mentoring program to be as successful as possible, it’s important to invest in a long-term and serious commitment as a poorly supported mentor-mentee match often has worse consequences than if the mentee had no mentor at all.”

Consider the following tips before starting:

1) Be realistic: Mentoring programs should not be a mere "add-on" to an existing program. 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 ( to obtain valuable resources specifically designed for new programs or contact the Iowa Mentoring Partnership at to arrange a site visit.