The research on the impact of caring, adult mentoring on the lives of youth is clear: It significantly changes their lives in a variety of positive ways. That's why one of the pillars in Empowering Youths of Iowa's foundation has each youth matched with a carefully vetted adult for two hours a week of mentoring. All mentoring takes place in EYI's classroom in downtown Cedar Rapids unless the team (team includes the youth, youth's parent or guardian, mentor, and EYI staff) approves off-site mentoring. Off-site mentoring may involve walking together to the YMCA to exercise, taking the city bus to a job shadow site or college visit, and so on.
When youth are mentored:
1. 59% earn better grades.
2. 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, and less use of illegal drugs.
3. 52% less likely to skip school (due to improved attitudes toward school).
4. Less aggression and criminal activity.
5. Increased likelihood of going to college.
6. Increased social and emotional development.
7. Improved self-esteem.
(The Value in Mentoring Our Youth, Social Work License Map, 2015, https://socialworklicensemap.com/blog/the-value-in-mentoring-our-youth-2/)
EYI expects its mentors to be a cut above the rest through:
1. Training: Both pre-service and ongoing in-service.
Focal points include:
- Relationship building.
- Benefits of having fun when learning and taking breaks during learning sessions.
- Teaching a growth mindset and promoting intrinsic motivation.
- Responding to behavior calmly and teaching replacement behavior & its benefits to the youth.
- Effective teaching and tutoring strategies, promoting independence and giving positive feedback.
3. Monitoring: EYI paid staff regularly monitors each mentor-mentee relationship and gives the mentor feedback for improvement.
Because the mentee often is coming from a full day in school - seated, quiet, and focused - mentoring sessions often start with some "chill" time (valuable chill time!) such as:
- Making and eating a snack such as a PB&J with their mentor in our EYI kitchen.
- Going to the YMCA to shoot hoops or lift weights, or for a walk outside.
- Playing a board game together.
- During the above, discussing their day and interests and life.
- Academics (e.g., math problems, writing assignments, or reading tied to sports).
- Career exploration (e.g., investigating careers related to mentee's love of animals).
- Life skills instruction (e.g., learning to take city bus to art museum if they love art).