Mass Mentoring Counts (MMC) is a biennial statewide youth mentoring survey in Massachusetts, conducted for MMP by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, which reveals mentoring trends, gaps and program practices. In preparation for the release of the 2012 MMC survey to programs, we asked some programs to share how past MMC surveys have been helpful. Today’s guest post is from Amy Howard, executive director at Strong Women Strong Girls in Boston.
Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a national nonprofit organization currently operating programs in three cities that range drastically in size, culture, and resources. As the local executive director for SWSG Boston, I am always on the lookout for research on mentoring that is specific to the communities we serve. SWSG engages college women as mentors to 3rd-5th grade girls at 55 school and community-based sites throughout Greater Boston.
Understanding the other services available at these sites and throughout the 12 neighborhoods we currently serve can be daunting, but tools like Mass Mentoring Counts help to do just that. In just a few short months at SWSG, I have used Mass Mentoring Counts to survey the landscape of mentoring at our current and prospective sites, brainstorm ideas for collaboration, and make the case for an increased investment of time and money in certain areas of our city.
Like many mentoring programs in the area, SWSG raises the majority of our private funds from Boston-based funders who want to better understand the climate of mentoring and girl-serving programs throughout the city, including how different programs coordinate their services to better meet the needs of youth. Having access to up-to-date, region-specific research is critical to my ability to make the case for SWSG and its expansion with regional funders. Most recently, I referred to Mass Mentoring Counts to highlight the critical importance of adding new program sites in the under-served areas of Dorchester and Mattapan to a local funder.
As a leader of a mentoring program dedicated to empowering women and girls, I have a responsibility to understand the full landscape of mentoring programs in Boston and across the Commonwealth. I also have a duty to collaborate with other programs to coordinate services. Comprehensive research like Mass Mentoring Counts helps me, it helps my colleagues, and most importantly, it helps all of us to better serve young people.
Mass Mentoring Counts (MMC) is a biennial statewide youth mentoring survey in Massachusetts, conducted for MMP by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, which reveals mentoring trends, gaps and program practices. In preparation for the release of the 2012 MMC survey to programs, we asked some programs to share how past MMC surveys have been helpful. Today’s guest post is from Wendy Foster, President & CEO at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay (BBBSMB).
Mass Mentoring Counts has been an invaluable source of information for our agency, helping us to “build our case” for funding and as a planning tool.
In 2010, BBBSMB engaged in a strategic planning process and took a fresh look at our entire program of service. Mass Mentoring Counts helped us to better understand how mentoring was impacting children in our service area – how many children were being mentored, what kind of mentoring services they were receiving, and where these programs were located. This information enabled us to identify opportunities to increase our impact and serve more children in communities with unmet youth development needs.
Our current five-year plan relies heavily on information gained from Mass Mentoring Counts, in combination with reports from other key sources (like the US Census), and our own internal data.
It’s now almost impossible to imagine what our funding proposals might look like without the influence of Mass Mentoring Counts. We cite countless statistics from the report – youth demographics, the proportion of boys versus girls being served, the number of children engaged in one-to-one mentoring friendships, and many more. Mass Mentoring Counts gives us the “big picture” and also helps us to communicate the subtle nuances of our service area.
Since 2005, Mass Mentoring Partnership has teamed up with the Boston Red Sox for the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge, an initiative designed to recruit more caring Massachusetts adults as mentors. We’ve just launched the 8th year of the campaign, and we’re highlighting programs that participated last year and made successful matches through the campaign. This is a post from mentor Eleanor Boudreau with Generations Incorporated.
- Tell us a little about yourself and your mentee, what mentoring program you’re involved in, and how long you have been matched.
This is my first year as a minimum-time AmeriCorps member with Generations Incorporated, and I am currently serving as a Reading Coach at the Dever Elementary in Dorchester. Since I started in September, I have been a one-on-one literacy coach for five students each week.
- How did you hear about the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge and what prompted you to get involved as a mentor?
I heard about Generations Incorporated through some of my fellow volunteers at JumpStart. After getting in touch with Generations Incorporated, they invited me to the Red Sox Mentoring Challenge info session they were having. Since then, I have been volunteering about 10 hours a week. I wanted to get involved and become a mentor because I like kids, I like being with other people, and I don’t like sitting around the house all day.
- What lessons have you drawn from the Red Sox team and its players about what it means to be a mentor and a role model?
It all revolves around good communication with each other. I think we see it within our team of volunteers at the Dever too – with good communication and good leadership we can really help one another succeed. The more we open our lines of communication, the more successful our students are.
- What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a mentor?
The most rewarding part is seeing the improvements the students make academically from October to May. I have seen significant improvement in all five of the students that I work with and it’s a great feeling to know that I made a difference.
- What would you say to those who are on the fence about mentoring (i.e. those who think they do not have enough time, expertise, etc)?
I would tell them to absolutely join! You can always find the time to be a mentor even if it’s only an hour or two a week. If you are concerned that you don’t have the expertise, they will train you and show you how to make a difference.