UGA helps create mentorship opportunities across Georgia
As an affiliate of a national partnership, the program helps young people thrive
The University of Georgia launched MENTOR Georgia to support young people across the state bringing together the mentoring community, providing programs and access to leadership and professional development, and raising awareness of the importance of mentoring.
Coordinated by UGA JW Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, MENTOR Georgia is the newest statewide branch of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, which aims to help young people do better in the classroom and enter the workforce better prepared to succeed and become leaders in their communities.
âDeveloping strong relationships through effective mentoring programs is essential to building stronger communities,â said Matt Bishop, director of the Fanning Institute, a public service and outreach unit at UGA. âBy putting leadership into practice, mentors not only provide support to young people, they help connect young people to where they live and encourage them to get involved, thus training the next generation of leaders so essential to the world. maintenance of communities. “
Studies show that one of the most important factors in a child’s success is having an adult other than a family member who believes in and encourages them, said Leslie Hale, executive director of MENTOR Georgia.
âThe data is clear: at-risk youth who have a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities, and more than twice as likely to enroll in college. ‘Take a leadership role in a club or sports team,’ Hale said. “Despite this, one in three young people do not have a mentor.”
Although mentoring programs exist statewide, a Georgia Youth Mentoring Report 2017, published by the UGA Fanning Institute, indicated that gaps in coverage exist.
âRural areas in particular face challenges in obtaining the resources to create and maintain mentorship programs,â Hale said. âIn addition, there is a need for more mentors of color and additional support to help current mentoring programs meet growing demand. “
The report also showed that organizations need support to implement best practices and ensure effective mentoring programs.
For example, two-thirds of programs in Georgia expected a mentor-mentee relationship to stay in place for at least a year. However, 42 percent of the programs indicated that matches last less than 10 months and the majority of programs indicated that mentor-mentee matches ending early were an occasional or common occurrence.
âResearch shows that when a mentor-mentee relationship ends earlier than expected, it can have a negative effect on the young person,â Hale said. âOrganizations understand the importance of this long-term commitment to the relationship, but need support to build organizational capacity to achieve it, and that’s where we come in. “
Using resources from the National Mentoring Partnership and the UGA Fanning Institute, MENTOR Georgia will focus on identifying resources and partners to create mentoring programs in communities that currently do not have them; help current programs implement best practices and develop new tools and resources to better recruit, train and support mentors; and providing professional and leadership development to mentoring organizations.
âThe Fanning Institute has the resources and expertise to help communities build effective and sustainable mentorship programs,â said Bishop. âMENTOR Georgia will serve as an outlet to connect communities and organizations to these resources. “
Meanwhile, Hale brings years of experience working with young people in the nonprofit sector to the job. Previously, she was the very first Executive Director of Books for Keeps, a nonprofit organization based in Athens, Georgia that creates home libraries for children in low-income communities. During her time with the organization, she quadrupled the program, expanding its reach to schools in Athens-Clarke County and four surrounding counties.
âI saw first-hand how children directly benefit not only from reading, but also seeing that there are caring adults outside of their immediate situation who want to connect with and support them,â Hale said. . âI also understand the unique challenges that youth-serving organizations face and look forward to working with programs to build their capacity and elevate their work. “
Since June, MENTOR Georgia has already presented at youth conferences, hosted a monthly virtual meeting with mentoring providers across Georgia, established relationships with United Way affiliates and started developing a strategic plan.
âOur goal is to help communities across Georgia create and maintain quality mentoring programs to train future leaders in our state,â Hale said. âHaving a mentor can change a child’s life, and every child should have this opportunity. “
For more information on MENTOR Georgia, Click here