MENTOR Virginia leads the mentoring movement in Virginia by promoting the benefits of mentoring as a low-cost intervention strategy for young people in need of support and guidance. On a community and state level, MENTOR Virginia provides leadership by building awareness of mentoring, conducting outreach to connect community members with programs, collecting data on mentoring trends and needs, and participating in state and national advocacy efforts to secure funds and support for the mentoring field. Awareness Building As an affiliate of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, MENTOR Virginia is involved in raising public awareness about the importance of youth mentoring at both a national and state level. In 2014, MENTOR released a report titled The Mentoring Effect which gave voice to young people’s insights about the role mentoring plays in their lives. The report confirmed that mentoring has a significant impact that results in positive outcomes for young people involved. Mentoring connects them to networks of support and resources that allow them to reach for social and economic opportunity and succeed. Unfortunately, one in three young people will grow up without a mentor. To close this gap, it will take everyone from parents, students and teachers to counselors, coaches and family friends – anyone who has a touch point in a young person’s life. MENTOR Virginia participates in local and national campaigns to inform the wide community – including funders, legislators, partners, and potential volunteers — about the mentoring gap and the critical role of a mentor in supporting today’s youth. Outreach & Referral Each month, MENTOR Virginia receives dozens of phone calls from community members in Virginia who want to find nearby mentoring opportunities for both mentors and youth seeking mentors. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership has designed a free database called Mentoring Connector. Registering your program in Mentoring Connector increases your program’s visibility and allows potential mentors and mentees in the area to find your program. MENTOR Virginia’s referral process will now rely on the Mentoring Connector database. If your program wishes to continue to receive referrals from MENTOR Virginia, register with Mentoring Connector today! Research & Knowledge Management Data collected from statewide surveys sheds light on trends in mentoring activity and program capacity, and informs MENTOR Virginia’s programming and advocacy efforts. It also helps MENTOR Virginia educate the community about the importance of mentoring as an intervention, and the needs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for more funding, services and volunteers. In addition to these data collection efforts, MENTOR Virginia works hard to remain up-to-date with the latest research that informs best practices for the field. If your program is interested in using research to build a case for mentoring in your community, check out the Elements of Effective Practice and the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) promotes mentoring-related research on a national scale. For more than 25 years, MENTOR has served the mentoring field by providing a public voice; developing and delivering resources to mentoring programs nationwide; and promoting quality for mentoring through evidence-based standards, innovative research and essential tools.
MENTOR Virginia aims to strengthen program quality by building internal capacity of mentoring programs and youth development organizations in Virginia. MENTOR Virginia’s primary initiative for capacity-building is the AmeriCorps VISTA program. With a focus on the organizational systems that directly impact the quality of youth mentoring relationships, the MENTOR Virginia VISTA Program infuses human capital resources into select start-up or existing host mentoring programs to support and/or develop organizational capacity and resiliency and to drive improved outcomes. Serving full time for one service year, VISTA members support the development and improvement of organizational systems for mentoring programs. An emphasis is placed on the implementation of initiatives to support stronger mentoring relationships and increase the number of matches, especially where mentoring gaps have been identified. To learn more about the MENTOR Virginia VISTA program or to apply to become a VISTA host site, click here.
Mentoring is good, but quality mentoring is better. By committing to quality improvements, programs can nurture stronger, longer lasting, positive mentoring relationships. For mentoring, quality standards are aligned with research-based best practices for the field, the Elements of Effective Practice. MENTOR Virginia works with programs of all levels, from early stages of development to well established, to spotlight and improve quality in programs. MENTOR Virginia works with programs to improve quality in the following ways: Training Technical Assistance National Quality Mentoring System Technical Assistance Want to improve the quality of specific aspects of your program? Our one-on-one program consultation, or "technical assistance," provides guidance and resources for program staff on topics of their choice, ranging from establishing a recruitment plan to developing outcome measurements. As an affiliate Mentoring Partnership of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR), MENTOR Virginia is proud to be a technical assistance provider for The National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), a project of The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and MENTOR. This youth mentoring resource is no-cost for programs and aims to strengthen mentoring quality and effectiveness. National Quality Mentoring System The goal of the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) is to provide mentoring programs with a system for assessing themselves against National Quality Mentoring Standards based on the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, as well as opportunities to receive a quality designation and training and technical assistance to support improvements in quality. The NQMS assessment is based heavily on the latest mentoring policies, practices, experiences, and research in the fourth edition of the Elements of Effective Practice, the foundational document produced by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership that serves as the gold standard for mentoring best practices. The result is a 92 item self-assessment tool that programs use to rate their current practice and identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. For each item, the program notes whether the best practice is being implemented or not and rates the implementation on a five-point scale.
Mentor training is a critical practice to ensure high quality relationships with youth. Research shows that mentors who are prepared with training are more likely to report higher levels of satisfaction, stronger relationships, and longer lengths of mentor/mentee relationships. New Mentor Training prepares mentors for their mentoring relationships. New Mentor Training uses proven strategies for success, including understanding the mentor role, working through difficult situations, communicating effectively, setting healthy boundaries and applying the positive youth development framework to mentoring relationships. Content Specific Trainings allow mentoring program staff and mentors to continue learning about relevant topics of their choosing that impact their mentoring relationships. Topics include cultural competency, communicating with youth, trauma-informed care and many more. Additional training information, including upcoming sessions, is available on MENTOR Virginia’s website at mentorva.org/training.