Mobius Mentoring Partnership Helps School-Based Mentoring Program Serve More Vermont Youth

MobiusConnecting Youth Mentoring (CY) is one of the largest school-based mentoring programs in Vermont, serving 151 students in middle school between grades five and eight across their Northwestern Vermont district. This mentoring program began as a pilot in 1998 and expanded across the district in 2003. Program participants spend quality time with their mentors for one hour a week on school grounds, for a minimum of one year. Through the OJJDP National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), CY was able to expand their mentoring programs into the community to serve students at the high school level for the first time. Inspired by the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ benchmarks, which indicate the value of mentoring students throughout adolescence, CY sought to enhance their current model, which concluded when students finish middle school, to offer mentoring during high school as well.

MobiusMobius, Vermont’s Mentoring Partnership, provided no-cost technical assistance (TA) to CY through the NMRC. Mobius advised and supported CY in bringing together a group of stakeholders to consider options for the program’s expansion. This “exploration team” assessed program fit, sustainability, and the location of the schools and community to inform CY’s adoption of a community-based model serving high school students. As a result of these efforts, CY designed a pilot with their previous middle school mentees. As schools were chosen for the expansion, CY successfully launched their pilot with 11 mentor-mentee matches in August of 2016.

CY’s middle school program is nationally recognized, but CY lacked experience in managing a community-based program, therefore facing challenges with this next phase in their development. As their TA Provider, Chad Butt, Executive Director of Mobius, worked closely with the CY’s exploration team as well as CY’s Director and staff. As an organization, CY takes pride in providing a high quality program, focused on creating strong relationships, one match at a time. Chad supported their efforts to expand their program by making connections, sharing best practices and providing unique insight that only an experienced provider working with myriad of programs could. The relationship between a TA Provider and a mentoring program like CY is a partnership, and Chad was skilled at identifying the amount support CY needed at any given time.

This TA relationship also aligned with Mobius’ mission to promote mentoring for youth in schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Mobius is an independent nonprofit that has worked to develop a culture of mentoring throughout Vermont by supporting mentoring programs across the state. Chad was impressed to learn how CY’s mentoring programs for middle school students developed such a positive culture and created a ‘cool’ environment that got students excited to meet with their mentors. “CY was prepared, and did an amazing job of gathering all the stakeholders and getting buy-in to figure out how to expand their mentoring programs into high school,” said Chad, who is excited to see this organization accomplish their goal.

Christine Lloyd-Newberry, CY’s Director, said of her TA experience: “The TA was priceless in this process of expanding our program to include a community-based high school program. There is no question in my mind that as a result of the TA received, our team was able to create a program that will sustain long into the future, like our middle school program has.”

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) partners with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to deliver the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) to the mentoring field. In addition to convening a Research Board which develops evidence-based reviews about mentoring topics, and offering a comprehensive mentoring resource center website, the NMRC provides mentoring programs nationwide with no-cost technical assistance to help them more deeply incorporate evidence-based practices into their programming. Once a mentoring program requests TA, their request is assigned to a local or regional TA provider within MENTOR's network of affiliates and providers. As in the example of CY, school and community-based mentoring programs alike may benefit from TA to help them establish and expand programs that meet quality standards as outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, improve operations, assess impact, or adapt their program to changing or emerging community needs.

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