Mentors are typically college students and young professionals between 19 and 29 years old, although there is no formal upper age limit. They are individuals who care about the youth and wish to make a difference in their lives. They are able to refrain from responding judgmentally to the youth and look to helping them grow to their fullest potential.
Mentors receive more than 60 hours of training, including role-play experience to prepare them for working with the youth. The training meets or exceeds all of the current best practices of mentoring programs as outlined by MENTOR’s cornerstone publication, the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, which details research-informed and practitioner-approved Standards for creating and sustaining quality youth mentoring programs and consequently, impactful mentoring relationships. The Fourth Edition, released in September 2015, reflects the most up-to-date research, practice, and thinking in the mentoring field.
Mentoring core skills include: Understanding mentorship; behavioral psychology, praising effectively, building trust, handling expectations, communication skills, active listening, building self-esteem, empowering youth, goal setting, problem-solving, critical thinking, establishing appropriate limits, understanding diversity, role play scenarios and analysis. Additional training includes group mentoring, anger management, team building, conflict resolution, handling hardships, gender specific issues, spiritual development (for religious groups), and advanced mentoring skills.
Additionally, mentors are mentored through their first year of mentoring by IYDE staff on weekly calls to help them through any challenges or unique situations as well as provide skills review. The mentors also work with their colleagues to provide additional support for the youth. Finally, a program advisor directly oversees and directs the team of mentors to work most efficiently with the youth and toward achieving community objectives for the youth.