In the last week of January, the National Mentoring Summit 2022 virtually brought together thousands of individuals who represent the mentoring movement, including practitioners, researchers, philanthropic investors, youth leaders, government and civic leaders, and MENTOR Affiliates.
Among the many things learned during the conference, these are our top three takeaways that shaped how we will continue to approach our work with companies whose mentoring programs we support:
- Adopt mentoring-appropriate language
Eliminate the phrase "at-risk youth" from our language. It comes from a place of deficit thinking and places unnecessary labels on young people, often rooted in racial bias. Instead, use the term "at-promise youth".
- Tips to run a successful mentorship program
- Frequently communicate across multiple channels and diversify program scheduling.
- Build community and pride by integrating and elevating your brand and participants’ talent.
- Provide individualized match support aligned with passion areas and career interests.
- Prizes, incentives, interactive elements, and authentic speakers drive engagement.
- Engage participants as advisors and create multiple feedback channels.
- Disability-inclusive mentoring practices
- Accessible intake: Make intake forms for mentoring programs more inclusive. Include questions that allow participants to ask for reasonable accommodations during the program, also allow for self-disclosure of disabilities. Frame questions in a way that explains why you are asking those questions.
- Training: Mentors should be trained on how to mentor students with disabilities so they are not scared to take on those students.
- Inclusive marketing: While creating marketing materials for your mentorship programs, make sure to include diversity in all the visuals. This is a great resource to get diverse and disability-inclusive images. Another inclusive marketing practice is to ensure that your website’s font is large enough for everyone to read.
- Support: While hosting mentorship events (in person), host them in places that are accessible to all.
If you are interested in getting involved or becoming a mentor, please visit MENTOR and join the movement to connect and fuel opportunities for youth wherever they may be.