In the United States, 1 in 3 young people are growing up without a mentor outside of their immediate family to help them thrive and develop into engaged adults. While so many young people are waiting to experience the impact of a mentor, programs—often operating without many resources—are working to close the mentoring gap every day.
There is another important force narrowing that gap, too: companies. Employers are increasingly playing a critical role in closing the mentoring gap and strategically leveraging their unique human and financial capital to develop, enhance and scale youth mentoring initiatives aligned with their goals. Many companies are also leveraging their brands to elevate the call for individuals to step up as mentors for youth. These initiatives dramatically increase the supports and opportunities for young people and ensure future generations are prepared for the 21st-century workforce.
In November,MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnershipheld a Congressional briefing in Washington DC that highlighted the business case for youth mentoring, explored the diverse mentoring initiatives that businesses are supporting across the nation, and provided insight into how private and public investments can support youth, communities and our workforce. The briefing was hosted by Rep. Jim Renacci (OH-16) and sponsored by The Alper Family Foundation.
From left to right: Dan Horgan, Dennis Conger, Director of Career & Technical Education at Wenatchee Public Schools and Casey Vogt, Student Services Coordinator at Confluence Health – both from Wenatchee WA talking about their high school career mentoring program.
The speakers at the briefing highlighted five diverse ways that employers are supporting youth mentoring – and how other companies can do the same:
Group-based Mentoring– Alonzo Guzman, an Assurance Senior Manager at EY in San Antonio, shared how the firm’s signature education and mentoring program,College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence), matches groups of EY employee volunteers with high school students. The mentors demystify the process of applying to and affording college and work with students to build the skills that will help them persist in completing their post-secondary goals. College MAP launched in 2009 and has active program sites in 34 cities across the US. Since August 2015, Alonzo and his colleagues have been supporting juniors and seniors at Sidney Lanier High School. Group-based mentoring is one of the ways in which EY expands relationship networks for students while sharing with them a diversity of experiences and perspectives. And while working through the college admissions process, the group of students becomes its own supportive and encouraging academic community.
Career-based Mentoring– In Wenatchee, Washington, Confluence Health has been partnering with the Wenatchee Public Schools since 2001 on a high school mentor program. The program provides an extended observation experience for high school students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. Casey Vogt, Student Services Coordinator at Confluence Health, shared, “Our high school mentor program is an example of an employer-driven initiative to support and develop a talent pipeline through mentorship.” Dennis Conger, Director of Career & Technical Education at Wenatchee Public Schools, emphasized the importance of employers providing experiential learning and mentoring opportunities with professionals across diverse career pathways to help students explore and set career and education goals.
Virtual Mentoring– As part ofDeloitte’s Right-Step Impact Venture, the firm is engaging hundreds of employee volunteers as virtual mentors through a partnership withStrive for College. The virtual mentors engage with juniors and seniors in high school to coach them through the college and financial aid application process. Bill Copeland, National Industry Leader of Life Sciences and Healthcare at Deloitte, shared that the virtual mentoring opportunity engaged employees that are often on the road for work but eager to make a difference. He also emphasized how Deloitte compliments its commitment to virtual mentoring with in-person mentoring opportunities, board service, initiatives that support school principals and pro bono projects that match the skills and expertise of employee volunteers with nonprofit organizations seeking capacity building support.
In-house Mentoring Programs– JPMorgan Chase developedThe Fellowship Initiative(TFI), a comprehensive academic, socio-emotional, college access and career readiness support program currently operating in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Dallas with 200 Fellows. Eric Williams, a TFI alum from Chicago, highlighted how the program helped him form a lifetime bond with a cohort of 40 other young men of color as well as mentoring relationships with employees at JPMorgan Chase. “TFI is a program directed at young men of color because we are too often viewed negatively and stereotyped based on what neighborhood we live in or school we attend. Too many of us do not have access to opportunities to succeed, and TFI changes that; it opens doors.”
STEM-based Mentoring– Erin Armstrong, an Associate Director at B. Braun Medical Inc. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and a co-chair of theWomen in Science & Engineering (WISE) Network, shared, “Through our collaboration with local employers and accomplished professionals from a variety of STEM fields, we are expanding opportunities for girls and young women in middle school, high school and college to explore STEM career pathways and to expand their networks of mentoring support.” The WISE Network manages mentoring activities through field trips and career exploration forums.
To learn more about employer engagement in youth mentoring, check outMentoring:Atthe Crossroads of Education, Business and Community, a report on how top US businesses collaborate with the public and nonprofit sectors to connect youth to transformative mentoring relationships and the value gained by the company and its employees.
Dan Horgan is the Senior Director of Corporate Engagement for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.
MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership is the unifying champion for quality youth mentoring in the United States. MENTOR’s mission is to close the “mentoring gap” and ensure our nation’s young people have the support they need through quality mentoring relationships to succeed at home, school, and ultimately, work. To achieve this, MENTOR collaborates with its Affiliates and works to drive the investment of time and money into high impact mentoring programs and advance quality mentoring through the development and delivery of standards, cutting-edge research and state-of-the-art tools. Connect with MENTOR on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.