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Supporting Young Vermonters from Elementary School Through High School Graduation and Beyond
Mobius believes that every young person in Vermont who wants a mentor should have that opportunity, from their early school years until they successfully enter adulthood. The K-12 Mentoring Initiative is a multi-year project, in collaboration with direct-service mentoring programs, to create the statewide infrastructure needed to turn this vision into a reality. Click on each of the section headers below for more information.
With Mobius’ support, the more than 140 adult-to-youth mentoring program sites in Vermont are making significant progress in addressing the mentoring need, as of today ensuring that around 2,300 young people are receiving the benefits of having a mentor. Still, the gap remains large. (Show More/Less)
Based on the results of The Mentoring Effect, Mobius believes there are more than 15,000 youth in Vermont who are still in strong need of a mentor. Furthermore, for those youth who are receiving mentoring services, there are significant barriers to them continuing to have a mentor as they get older.
While support for youth during their primary years is important, the transition into adolescence is a critical crossroads in a young person’s life. Based on multiple studies by Big Brothers Big Sisters and MENTOR, youth with mentors are significantly less likely to skip school, and more likely to go to college. Mentors introduce their mentees to new experiences, and help them explore their interests and goals. They play an integral role by encouraging their teen mentees to explore, visit, and apply for college and other post-secondary educational opportunities.
There are four primary barriers preventing youth in Vermont from having the opportunity to be matched with a mentor through high school:
- A scarcity of mentoring programs in more rural areas of the state (such as the Northeast Kingdom)
- In areas that do have mentoring programs, a lack of program options for older youth
- In parts of the state that have programs that serve younger youth and others that serve older youth, the lack of an organized system for transitioning matches from one program to another
- A lack of capacity for existing programs to take on new mentees or support matches that transition from another program
While the first two barriers require identifying new agencies or schools interested in starting programs, the third barrier can be addressed by developing a more connected and collaborative infrastructure within the existing network of mentoring programs.
Traditionally this meant that when a mentee ages out of a program that only serves youth in a set age range, the match would simply end or the mentor and mentee would continue to meet unofficially, without the oversight and risk management of a formalized program.
Youth still in need of support were left to navigate their transition into adolescence without having a mentor. Furthermore, in the instances in which a youth was fortunate enough to be referred to another mentoring program that worked with older youth down the line, the new program was required to invest valuable staff time into recruiting, screening, and training a new mentor to support him or her. Having an established transition system in place between the two programs would have allowed the match to continue meeting through that new program at a fraction of the cost and with no gap in services for the youth.
The fourth barrier is specifically a financial impediment, and requires Mobius and mentoring agencies to continue to seek new funds for adding additional staffing to those existing programs that are near or at capacity.
Since 2015, Mobius has been partnering with more than 20 mentoring agencies and 100 mentoring program sites that Mobius awards grant funding for to begin turning the K-12 vision into a reality. (Show More/Less)
Mobius provides support and resources for program staff and mentors, and connects programs with one another so that matches can transition as the mentee ages out of the original program. In addition to facilitating collaboration between programs serving younger youth and those serving teenagers, Mobius is also working to help programs that serve youth of all ages expand capacity and enhance the training and support they provide for youth during adolescence. Each program partner in the Initiative is also required to complete the Quality Mentoring System, a program assessment process based on MENTOR’s national quality standards.
Through the K-12 Mentoring Initiative, Mobius also provides mentoring programs access to management systems that programs, the majority of which are managed by part-time staff, don’t have the capacity to develop on their own. These resources include a searchable statewide directory of programs and mentor referral system, a program management database, a quality assurance system to ensure and assist programs in meeting best practices, and a program evaluation survey process.
Mobius also provides direct assistance to the approximately 2,300 volunteer adult mentors in the state, helping mentors feel more supported, making mentoring more convenient and affordable, and helping youth feel more connected to their community. The Mobius Mentor Discount Card provides discounts at more than 60 businesses for match activities ranging from dinner to rock climbing. The Mobius Community Service Program encourages mentors to volunteer in the community with their mentee.
Mobius’ primary focus areas for the K-12 Mentoring Initiative in 2015-2016 have been bolstering and formalizing a small number of collaborative partnerships between a few mentoring programs to allow mentor matches to transition from one program to another, as well as researching the need for expanding the capacity of programs that serve older youth to allow them to take on additional matches from other programs. (Show More/Less)
In 2016-2017, Mobius will focus on expanding program capacity based on this research, and work to replicate this model throughout the state. Mobius will also work to ensure that programs in schools affected by school and district mergers remain active and valued by their school communities. Over the next few years, Mobius will shift the focus of the Initiative toward filling programming gaps in areas of the state where there are few or no mentoring programs currently in operation or a lack of program options available for older youth such as the Northeast Kingdom, Lamoille County, and parts of Addison County. In 2018-2019, Mobius will evaluate the outcomes of the Initiative to date, and determine the future direction of the program.
Supporters of the K-12 Mentoring Initiative
The K-12 Mentoring Initiative is made possible through funding support from the Walmart Foundation, the A.D. Henderson Foundation, the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Francis T. and Louise T. Nichols Foundation, and the Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children.