Exercise-Focused Mentoring Program Engages Pennsylvania Youth with Support from the Mentoring Partnership and Resource Center
The Bench Mark Program (BMP), located in Lancaster, PA, works to create an environment where at-risk teens and mentors can connect and build relationships. Just as someone might make a friend at their local community fitness facility, teens spend time at Bench Mark gym facilities connecting with mentors through shared exercise and effort. Mentors and students alike enjoy the dual benefit of physical fitness training and mentorship in a laid back environment where discussions and connections happen naturally between exercise sets, rather than a traditional or classroom setting.
The Mentoring Partnership and Resource Center (MPRC), a Philadelphia-based NMRC Technical Assistance provider, helped the leadership team at Bench Mark put programmatic structures in place to support their mission. The work began with MPRC supporting Bench Mark staff in creating a logic model, and then assessed the needs of their volunteers, and finally developing plans to effectively train volunteers as well as board members. A critical document that came out of their technical assistance engagement is Bench Mark’s Policy and Procedure Manual. This document signifies a turning point for the Bench Mark Program, helping them achieve the best possible outcomes for their mentees with the right infrastructure in place.
|From left to right: Octavius Blount,
MPRC MSW Student Intern; Gregory Rutter, Bench Mark Program Board Member; Abby Ellis, MPRC Executive Director; Will Kiefer, Bench Mark Program Founder; and Karla Molina, Bench Mark Program Board Member.
Says Will Keifer, Executive Director of his experience with TA: “If I was addressing the mentor field as a whole, I would recommend that everyone engage in TA [and] training if at all possible. Regardless of the stage at which your organization finds itself, [you can benefit from] a second opinion on your policies and procedures. For those who are beginners, it is necessary to get started on the right foot, but even for mature programs, there is something to learn from technical assistance. TA is grounded in evidence-based effective programming and strategies that are available for use, if you choose to do so. If we as a mentoring community do not stay up-to-date with the latest mentoring strategies, we'll fail to give our clients the attention and care that they deserve.”
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 the opportunity to request and receive no-cost technical assistance to help them more deeply incorporate evidence-based practices into their programming. Once a mentoring program requests technical assistance, their request is assigned to a local or regional technical assistance provider within MENTOR's network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships and TA providers. As in the example of Bench Mark Mentoring Program, new and emerging mentoring programs may benefit from technical assistance to help them design and implement programs that meet quality standards as outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, while existing or established programs may utilize TA to meet improve operations, assess impact, or adapt their program to changing or emerging community needs.