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What is a Mentor?

A mentor is an adult who, along with parents, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out strengths that are already there.

As a mentor, you can help connect children with the other four America's Promise Fundamental Resources: safe places and structured activities during non-school hours, a healthy start, a marketable skill through effective education and an opportunity to give back through community service.

Getting Started: Think about how you want to work with a young person.


The types of activities that interest you ... helping youth develop a specific skill, pursuing an interest, learning about a subject, or just getting to know them and being their friend.

The age and number of youth you want to work with ... elementary, middle school, or high school age children; one youth or several - for example, mentoring one child one-on-one versus coaching a group of young people.

The amount of time you have for a youth ... once a week? Once or twice a month?

It is important to be realistic about the responsibilities involved with mentoring a young person. If you are not sure about mentoring a young person for at least six months, consider trying a shorter-term volunteer opportunity. Keep in mind, however, what one mentor told us ...

"You don't know in advance how rewarding it is going to be, so you are worried about the responsibility of giving your time consistently. The irony is that once I starting doing it, I didn't want to miss a session."

Think about organizations in your community that might have mentoring opportunities that match your interests.

Use your personal contacts

Ask family and friends who volunteer.

Ask someone who handles community affairs or charitable contributions at your office.

Ask your minister, rabbi, priest, or someone who handles community outreach where you worship.

Ask organizers and other members of service clubs, civic groups, fraternities, sororities, or professional associations you belong to.

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What is a Mentor?

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