About Mentoring

Learn ways to impart life skills and wisdom to those who have not

Mentoring is a great asset in the local and global community because it helps with the advancement of all people, but specifically people who are usually underserved by their communities. Learn about mentoring and the different types of mentoring programs available.


So you want to learn about mentoring, how to volunteer and the different types of mentoring programs available? First you need to know what it is.

According to Dictionary.com, mentoring involves someone acting as an advisor, coach or educator to another person. In “Mentor Matching: A Goodness of Fit Model,” Barry Bozeman and Mary Feeney, professors and experts on mentoring, relate that mentoring usually includes informal, one-on-one face-to-face communication designed to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills relevant to work or life from a person who is either educated or experienced in a certain area to a person who has less or no experience or education in that area.

As an example, a person who has been the CEO of a company for many years may become a mentor to a person who has just graduated from business school but has no practical, hands-on experience in the business world. The mentoring relationship would be set up so that the CEO could impart her wisdom and knowledge to the new graduate. There are numerous types and styles of mentoring, but the most common mentoring occurs through mentoring programs, specifically programs for mentoring kids and women.


There are several different types of mentoring programs. According to MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership, mentoring programs focus on career, social and life development. Many mentoring programs focus on youth mentoring or mentoring women, two groups that are often underserved by their communities. Other mentoring programs focus on gay or lesbian youths or children of prisoners. According to MENTOR, online mentoring, or e-mentoring, is also available to mentor kids and teens who may feel more comfortable with the anonymity the Internet provides.

Youth mentoring programs

Youth mentoring programs often focus on mentoring kids who are at risk or need role models. An example of a program aimed at mentoring kids is the Big Brothers Big Sisters International organization. According to Big Brothers Big Sisters International, the organization has been providing mentoring to kids between the ages of 6 and 18 since 1904. Big Brothers Big Sisters focuses on the individual needs of each child through one-to-one mentoring. Big Brothers Big Sisters staff members match volunteers with children and then provide ongoing oversight and support to each match.

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters International, youth mentoring programs are community- or school-based. Public/Private Ventures, an independent research firm, said in a 1995 report that youth participants in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program were less likely to do drugs, use alcohol, skip class or school or be violent. The report also found that Big Brothers Big Sisters participants have more solid family relationships and perform better in school. Overall, the 1995 report found that Big Brothers Big Sisters is a youth mentoring program that should be replicated as a program that successfully mentors kids. If you want to learn more about how to become a youth mentor, or know a kid who needs a mentor, contact your local Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Mentoring women

Mentoring programs for women focus on career, educational and personal resources to promote economic empowerment for usually low-income women. Women’s Mentoring Network, for example, helps low-income women develop employability and personal skills so that they can achieve financial independence, workplace advancement and economic empowerment. Programs like Women’s Mentoring Network also mentor women on parenting skills and how to take control of their lives. Mentoring for women is made available through religious organizations and professional groups in addition to third parties.

Another example of a mentoring program for women is the Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, sponsored by Fortune magazine and the U.S. State Department. To learn more about mentoring for women, check with your local church or use an online directory of women’s mentoring programs.

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