Mentoring: Great for students, great for the community

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mentorsomeoneOften the impact that someone has on a student can be something so seemingly small but last a lifetime. Many things can derail even the most motivated students as they work toward life after high school. Having someone who can make a personal difference to these students not only can help keep them on track, but even encourage other students to include education in their future. Are you someone who wants to “Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters?” If so, you could serve your community as a mentor to a youth in your area.

January is National Mentoring Month, recognizing the impact volunteer mentors can have on students while also bringing the attention to an increased need for community involvement. In 2014, the Iowa Mentorship Program supported 83 certified mentoring programs across the state, working with over 8,100 mentors who met quality-based standards to work with students. While an impressive number, it doesn’t reflect that 1 in 3 youth will grow up without a mentor nationally. It’s a gap that, if filled, could improve student performance, strengthen communities and improve lives.

How Does Mentoring Benefit Students?

The National Mentoring Partnership has found that students who receive mentoring are:

  • 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.
  • 81% more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities.
  • More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Mentored students also gain the skills that make them more likely to be productive and engaged citizens which builds stronger communities.

What does it take to be a mentor?
Mentors are super heroes, but they don’t have to possess super powers. The number one thing it takes to be a mentor is a willingness to be there as a reliable person in a student’s life. Spending even one hour a week with a mentee – be it helping with homework, playing games, or just hanging out – makes a difference because it shows the ability to be a consistent presence in his or her life.

Mentoring offers benefits to the mentor, as well. Not only does serving as a mentor offer the chance to give back to the community, many mentors state they feel a sense of purpose from being someone who matters in another person’s life and often look at mentoring as a way to establish a tradition of “paying it forward” by sharing the values and qualities that matter to them and want to see in their community.

There are many quality programs available with mentor options to fit a variety of schedules and interests.. These programs not only provide all of the training and support needed to be a mentor, but also help pair new mentors with mentees in the community.

For more information on local programs and how to find or become a mentor, visit www.iowamentoring.org or mentor@iowa.gov.

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