Is there a long-term commitment?
While many mentoring organizations require a one-year commitment, we’ve learned that even just one meeting between a mentor and a youth can have a positive effect. The child might be inspired to change their behavior or motivated to pursue a particular career. And since many of the troubled youth that we serve are often moved around or released back to the streets, we customize our programs so that they have the maximum effect in the shortest period of time. This also allows for flexibility in our volunteers’ schedules. Therefore, we can usually organize a project based on your timetable, including opportunities to help out through fun one-time events. One-on-One Mentoring (“Big Brother/Sister” type) generally requires a minimum of a one-year commitment.
How much time do you require to be a mentor for a group?
When teaching a workshop, we ask our mentors to contribute an hour a week. Our programs are usually set for a fixed period of time (generally around 6-12 weeks). That way, you can complete a short project and the youth have a sense of accomplishment. This also allows our mentors flexibility. After the workshop is completed, mentors might decide to work with the same kids, start a new workshop or end it because of personal time constraints, without the children feeling abandoned. Each program is tailored to the mentor’s and children’s needs and some projects go on for longer periods of time, including several years.
What types of skills are you looking for mentors to have?
Experience in any of the arts are welcome, even as a hobbyist. We can also help you teach simple Arts and Crafts Workshops that don’t require any specific talents. Younger children enjoy storytelling, coloring or to just play games. The greatest aptitudes that mentors need are patience and dependability. For those volunteers without an artistic expertise, you can become (1) a Life Skills Mentor, teaching financial literacy, college opportunities and job interview techniques to a group of youth, (2) a “Special Friend” or “Big Brother/Big Sister” type of mentor with One-on-One mentoring, or (3) an academic tutor.
How many children are there per class?
We usually limit the arts workshops to no more than 12, but on average it is 5-10 youth. General mentoring with groups are usually 4-6 youth.
Do you need teaching credentials to be a mentor?
No. All you need is a commitment and passion. We will help you to develop a structured curriculum and provide you with lesson plans in writing, music, art, etc. if needed.
Do you train your mentors?
Yes. All mentors receive a comprehensive Mentor Training Manual. We also hold seminar training throughout the year for our mentors, which includes an opportunity to network with other mentors, share ideas and learn about our other programs. Most of the facilities that we serve offer their own orientations and training sessions, as well. We will also be developing an online Mentors Forum.
Do mentors get paid?
Since we’re a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, every dollar we spend is crucial. We are hopeful that you will donate your time free of charge. Some of our programs do offer a stipend to cover expenses.