Vermont Mentoring Partnership Vermont Mentoring Partnership
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Elements of Effective Practice

The Vermont Mentoring Partnershipis an advocate for the expansion of mentoring and a resource for mentors and mentoring initiatives statewide.

The Vermont Mentoring Partnership Mission:The Vision of the Vermont Mentoring Partnership is: To improve the lives of Vermont youth through quality mentoring relationships.

Responsible Mentoring:

  • Is a structured, one-to-one relationship or partnership that focuses on the needs of the mentored participant.
  • Fosters caring and supportive relationships.
  • Encourages individuals to develop to their fullest potential
  • Helps an individual to develop his or her own vision for the future.
  • Is a strategy to develop active community partnerships.

A responsible mentoring program requires:

  • A well-defined mission and established operating principles.
  • Regular, consistent contact between the mentor and the participant.
  • Support by the family or guardian of the participant.
  • Additional community support services.
  • An established organization of oversight.
  • Adherence to general principles of volunteerism.
  • Paid or volunteer staff with appropriate skills.
  • Written job descriptions for all staff and volunteer positions.
  • Adherence to EEO requirements.
  • Inclusiveness of racial, economic, and gender representation as appropriate to the program.
  • Adequate financial and in-kind resources.
  • Written administrative and program procedures.
  • Written eligibility requirements for program participants.
  • Program evaluation and ongoing assessment.
  • A long-range plan that has community input.
  • Risk management and confidentiality policies.
  • Use of generally accepted accounting practices.
  • A prudent and reasonable rationale for staffing requirements that is based on:
    -the organization's statement of purpose and goals
    -the needs of mentors and participants
    -community resources
    -staff and other volunteers' skill level.

A Nuts-and-Bolts CHECKLIST for Mentoring Programs

1. A statement of purpose and long-range plan that includes:

  • Who, what, where, when, why and how activities will be performed.
  • Input from originators, staff, funders, potential volunteers, and participants.
  • Assessment of community need.
  • Realistic, attainable, and easy-to-understand operational plan.
  • Goals, objectives, and timelines, for all aspects of the plan.
  • Funding and resource development plan.

2. A recruitment plan for both mentors and participants that includes:

  • Strategies that portray accurate expectations and benefits.
  • Year-round marketing and public relations.
  • Targeted outreach based on participants' needs.
  • Volunteer opportunities beyond mentoring.
  • A basis in your program's statement of purpose and long-range plan.

3. An orientation for mentors and participants that includes:

  • Program overview.
  • Description of eligibility, screening process, and suitability requirements.
  • Level of commitment expected (time, energy, flexibility).
  • Expectations and restrictions (accountability).
  • Benefits and rewards they can expect.
  • A separate focus for potential mentors and participants.
  • A summary of program policies, including written reports, interviews, evaluation, and reimbursement.

4. Eligibility screening for mentors and participants that includes:

  • An application process and review.
  • A face-to-face interview and home visit.
  • Reference checks for mentors, which may include character references, child abuse registry check, driving record checks, and criminal record checks where legally permissible.
  • Suitability criteria that relate to the program statement of purpose and needs of the target population. Could include some or all of the following: personality profile; skills identification; gender; age; language and racial requirements; level of education; career interests; motivation for volunteering; and academic standing.
  • Successful completion of pre-match training and orientation.

5. A readiness and training curriculum for all mentors and participants that includes:

  • Trained staff trainers.
  • Orientation to the program and resource network, including information and referral, other supportive services, and schools.
  • Skills development as appropriate.
  • Cultural/heritage sensitivity and appreciation training.
  • Guidelines for participants on how to get the most out of the mentoring relationship.
  • Do's and Don'ts of relationship management.
  • Job and role descriptions.
  • Confidentiality and liability information.
  • Crisis management/problem solving resources.
  • Communications skills development.
  • Ongoing sessions as necessary.

6. A matching strategy that includes:

  • A link with the program's statement of purpose.
  • A commitment to consistency.
  • A grounding in the program's eligibility criteria.
  • A rationale for the selection of this particular matching strategy from the wide range of available models.
  • Appropriate criteria for matches, including some or all of the following: gender; age; language requirements availability; needs; interests; preferences of volunteer and participant; life experience; temperament.
  • A signed statement of understanding that both parties agree to the conditions of the match and the mentoring relationship.
  • Pre-match social activities between mentor and participant pools.
  • Team building activities to reduce the anxiety of the first meeting.

7. A monitoring process that includes:

  • Consistent, scheduled meetings with staff, mentors, and participants.
  • A tracking system for ongoing assessment.
  • Written records.
  • Input from community partners, family, and significant others.
  • A process for managing grievances, praise, re-matching, interpersonal problem solving, and premature relationship closure.

8. A support, recognition, and retention component that includes:

  • A formal kick-off event.
  • Ongoing peer support groups for volunteers, participants, and others.
  • Ongoing training and development.
  • Relevant issue discussion and information dissemination.
  • Networking with appropriate organizations.
  • Social gatherings of different groups as needed.
  • Annual recognition and appreciation event.
  • Newsletters or other mailings to participants, mentors, supporters, and funders.

9. Closure steps that include:

  • Private and confidential exit interviews to de-brief the mentoring relationship between:
    -participant and staff.
    -mentor and staff.
    -mentor and participant without staff.
  • Clearly stated policy for future contacts.
  • Assistance for participants in defining next steps for achieving personal goals.

10. An evaluation process based on:

  • Outcome analysis of program and relationship.
  • Program criteria and statement of purpose.
  • Information needs of board, funders, community partners, and other supporters of the program.

Contact VMP for more information or a brochure