What is National Mentoring Month?
Each year in January, organizations and programs around the nation celebrate the meaningful relationships that mentorship provides. Throughout the month, there are workshops, conferences, training, and more dedicated to teaching mentors vital skills and strategies for improving their mentorship relationships. There are also plenty of opportunities to get involved with mentorship for the first time or connect with a local or national organization dedicated to fostering relationships.
Why is mentoring an important aspect of community connection/engagement?
Research has indicated that mentoring provides a plethora of educational, behavioral, and social-emotional benefits, for both mentees and mentors of youth. On average, kids who are involved in meaningful mentoring relationships have better academic performance, better school attendance, and more positive attitudes about school and classroom participation. They’re also less likely to partake in illegal drug and alcohol use and show decreased rates of violent behavior. Likewise, mentoring relationships improve the lives of mentors as well! Studies show that individuals engaged in both informal and formal mentoring often have increased self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment and pride, insight into youth experiences, increased patience and supervisory skills, and a network of volunteers. These benefits can be personally fulfilling and also contribute to career development and success, especially for college students who are developing vital interpersonal work skills.
Through mentoring, each and every student at Middlebury college has the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. By dedicating just about an hour a week to a mentoring program (less time than most of us spend scrolling through TikTok!), you can provide a sense of stability and connection to a kid or teen in the community.
What opportunities are there for students to get involved in a mentoring program at the CCE?
The Center for Community Engagement supports a variety of mentorship programs that can fit most student schedules and interest areas. If you are interested in joining one of the organizations described below, their contact information has been provided. In addition, you can reach out to either Shannon Lyford (email@example.com) or Gabi Cuna (firstname.lastname@example.org) who advise the Youth & Mentoring organizations.
For individuals interested in volunteering with elementary aged youth, Community Friends, Page One Literacy Project, DREAM, and Nutrition Outreach & Mentoring (NOM) provide opportunities to work with kids aged kindergarten through fifth grade. Programs like Community Friends and DREAM match college students to kids directly and support 1:1 mentorship relationships, whereas Page One and NOM use group programs to support children’s literacy and access to nutritious foods respectively.
If you’re looking for opportunities with middle school aged kids, Brother to Brother and Sister to Sister provide group mentorship opportunities. They host fun activities throughout the school year, accompanied by discussions about middle school issues like healthy masculinity, self-esteem, and bullying. NOM also hosts in-person cooking classes at Middlebury Union Middle School during the school year.
For opportunities with high school students, check out Middlebury College Access Mentors (MiddCAM) who lead a 1:1 mentorship program that pairs middlebury college students with Addison County high school students so that they can learn more about their post-secondary options and the college application process. Mentors are paired with their mentees during the spring semester of their junior year in high school and stay paired for three semesters, until their mentee graduates high school. NOM also hosts group mentoring programs focused around nutrition and access to healthy foods in collaboration with Addison Central Teens. This program relies on a consistent group of volunteers who visit the teen center biweekly and host cooking classes and activities.
As you can see from the variety of programs and activities offered, the Center for Community Engagement supports a multitude of ways for you to get involved in mentorship. These programs can fit a variety of schedules and time commitments, age ranges, and focus areas. For more information, click through and check out the Presence page for each of the organizations discussed, or contact Shannon or Gabi to discuss ways to get involved.