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Specialty Mentoring as a Means to Recruit Male Mentors

MARCH 13, 2017

In 2016, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO) launched our Latino Mentoring Program, a college and career-focused mentoring program for Latino young people, and observed that more male mentors enrolled in the program than female. This program is community-based and matches high school juniors with mentors for one year to help provide gateways to college access and other post-secondary opportunities. With so many failed recruitment campaigns targeting men in the past, we were eager to learn what was motivating male volunteers to enroll in this mentoring program, in the hopes that this formula could be replicated elsewhere, as so many mentoring organizations struggle to recruit men.

A closer look revealed that this volunteer opportunity to this community-based mentoring program had a key component: a tangible and specific goal. In the Latino Mentoring Program, the goal is to support Latino students with a successful transition from high school to college or other technical or trade program of the students’ choosing. Based on our conversations with our male mentors about their interest in the program, it appeared that men were excited to volunteer their time to mentor Latino youth and create a measureable impact with their community.

BBBSCO then launched an additional mentoring program targeting eighth and ninth grade students who are at risk of dropping out of school. Similarly, there was more interest expressed by males during the recruitment process for this new program, named the 8+9 Mentoring Program. The goal of 8+9 Mentoring Program is to focus on the mentee’s education and provide resources to ensure success and grow high school graduation rates. In one year of mentorship, the mentor was able to see the student’s improvements throughout the year, and mentees received additional support and resources to help them achieve educational success. Mentees also received support from BBBSCO in connecting with another local program after the program concluded, to engage them throughout the duration of high school and help ensure graduation and post-graduation opportunities.

Currently, BBBSCO’s male mentors account for 57% of their specialty mentors, which is a significant 12% higher than the percent of male mentors in our traditional, community-based program (45%). This comparison indicates that there may be something attractive about the specific and concrete outcomes of our specialty mentoring programs for prospective male volunteers. While the outcomes that traditional mentoring programs seek to promote, such as self-esteem, may not be as concrete for mentors until years into the relationship, our specialty mentoring programs often cultivate shorter-term academic achievements for mentors and mentees that may keep our mentors excited about the difference they can make in young people’s lives. With so many mentoring organizations seeking to increase the number of male mentors in their organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon hopes that their successes with male recruitment can be replicated in other programs to help us reach our goals.

We’d love to hear from programs who have had similar successes with male recruitment, and what insights other practitioners may have about the connection between recruitment efforts and program goals.

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