By Jennifer Van Pelt
January is National Mentoring Month, a campaign that celebrates mentoring and the positive effect it has on young lives. The month includes a variety of celebrations including, “I am a Mentor Day”, “International Mentoring Day”, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service”, “National Mentoring Summit Day”, and “#ThankYourMentor Day”. These celebrations are focused on reflecting on the benefits both the mentors and mentees receive in the relationship as well as to share powerful stories about volunteerism. Mentoring.org outlines the three goals of the month-long campaign:
Raise awareness of mentoring in its various forms.
Recruit individuals to mentor, especially in programs that have waiting lists of young people.
Promote the rapid growth of mentoring by recruiting organizations to engage their constituents in mentoring.
Celebrating its 17th year, the campaign has gained support from Barack Obama, Maya Angelou, Harvard, and the NBA, among others.
Benefits of Mentorship
A mentor is more than a support system or a professional counterpart. According to mentorship.com, the following are a few benefits of students having a mentor:
Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.
In addition to better school attendance and a better chance of going on to higher education, mentored youth maintain better attitudes toward school.
Students who meet regularly with their mentors are less likely than their peers to skip school.
Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are: 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who do not.
Words Alive Mentorship
Words Alive analyzed results from the mentorships in our Westreich Scholarship program and found that there was a large benefit when mentors and mentees met consistently. Many mentors mentioned that in the beginning of the program they would be stood up on multiple occasions or meetings would be cancelled without explanation. It was up to these mentors set and communicate expectations. For many of our scholars, consistency was not prioritized in their previous relationships, and their Words Alive mentors helped them see the value and importance of honoring their commitments.
We have many more success stories from the WAWS program that we are proud to share. At a recent meetup, our WAWS mentors talked about the successes they’ve had with their scholars. Successes included “Scholar is forming a study group”, “Scholar’s professor praised him on his critical thinking skills” and “developed a budget”. Successes like these show the amount of trust and support that the mentor relationship requires. Another success story involves Antonise Stewart, a veterinary student, who met with her mentor to donate their time towards creating kitten toys and scratching posts for the local humane society. By volunteering together, they are bonding over a shared passion and activity that makes both feel good about how they spent their time.
If you would like to learn more about the WAWS program, click here.