By Kelly McKee, executive director of MENTOR Washington
(This article is a follow up to a Good Morning Greater Spokane event that was held in January, 2019, called Making Connections: Mentoring at the crossroads of education, business and community.)
I was excited to witness over 100 Spokane leaders come together in January to share their mentoring stories and talk about how they can promote mentoring in their businesses, local schools, and community organizations. The room was filled with people whose lives had been touched by mentoring – those who have benefited from mentoring throughout their education and career, those who have taken initiative and mentored young people, and those who are leading local mentoring programs in their own communities in Spokane. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the inspiring personal story of Carla Cicero, president/CEO of Numerica Credit Union, and the call to action from Chuck Teegarden, executive director of Communities in Schools of Spokane – to be a mentor, and to become a champion for mentoring in your business, local schools, and community organizations.
As you ask yourself, “what role can I play in increasing mentoring relationships here in Spokane?” here are a few things to consider:
What is the impact of mentoring?
Mentoring connects young people to networks of support and resources that allow them to reach for social and economic opportunity and succeed. Think about how you have benefited from mentors throughout your life in your job, community, on a sports team, or in a religious setting. Mentoring can take many forms: a one-to-one relationship, a small group, or a team format, and it happens in a variety of settings, such as a school, community or workplace. Over twenty years of research shows mentoring works.
Young people who receive mentoring (compared to peers):
|Academic Impact||Miss half as many days of school||55% more likely to enroll in college|
|Substance Abuse||46% less likely to start using drugs||27% less likely to start drinking alcohol|
|Mental Health & Social Well-being||Reduced symptoms of depression||Increased social acceptance|
|Service and leadership||78% more likely to volunteer regularly||130% more likely to hold leadership position|
What can I do to increase quality mentoring relationships in Spokane?
One in three young people in the United States will grow up without a mentor. To close this gap, it will take everyone from parents, students and teachers to business leaders, counselors, coaches and family friends – anyone who has a touch point in a young person’s life.
As a business leader, you can help close the mentoring gap for young people by:
- Encouraging your employees to volunteer as a mentor for youth in your community. Give paid release time off once per month for employees to volunteer as a mentor. Spread the word about volunteer mentoring opportunities in your community in your employee newsletter. Employees who mentor will gain essential relationship and communication skills that will contribute toward their professional development. They can get started by going to the Mentor Connector.
- Reach out to local mentoring organizations (Mentor Connector) and/or schools to create and develop career readiness and job shadowing opportunities for mentored youth.
- Supporting mentoring organizations in your community through sponsorship, support for mentor recruitment, and pro bono services. For example:
- Over the past few months, Starbucks has hosted career nights and mentor recruitment events in Washington, as part of the 10k Connection Campaign.
- AT&T’s Aspire Mentoring Academy works to improve the ability of nonprofits that run youth mentoring programs to assess their impact, use data for learning and development, and to collaborate to share strategies. Click here to learn more: Accelerating Employee Engagement with Mentoring
- Providing leadership and support for quality mentoring relationships in your workplace, to increase valuable career connections and exposure to potential career paths. Experienced employees benefit as much from mentoring relationships as their less experienced co-workers, for example, by hearing creative ideas and different perspectives, and learning ways to apply new technologies to meet goals.