Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 National Mentoring Summit, attended by more than 900 professionals from around the country and the world. The theme of the summit was “Expanding the Mentoring Effect,” and participants had the opportunity to engage in workshops about improving or expanding their programs, network with one another, and hear from youth whose lives had been changed through mentoring.
Often, people think of mentoring as something that is “nice to have,” but not necessary. However, when we look at the evidence about the effect that a mentor can have on the trajectory of a young person’s life, it becomes evident how important the mentoring effect really is. When I look back at my own life, I wonder where I might be without my mentors—the childhood ballet teacher who encouraged me to take on responsibility and improved my confidence by allowing me to assist with classes; the high school advisor who talked me off a ledge when I failed a test and told me he was proud of me for realizing the world didn’t end when that happened; the voice teacher who believed in me and helped me navigate the theater world; the boss who took a chance on me and gave me the support to spread my wings. Who would I be without the influence of those caring, supportive voices? Attending this conference, I heard so many stories about the impact a committed adult can have in the life of a young person, and I see the mentoring effect in action every day at Generation Hope. I love to watch our Scholars’ confidence grow as they embrace their relationships with their mentors and seek out advice and support. It is always striking to me how many Scholars tell us that, while they certainly appreciate the financial assistance they receive from Generation Hope, it is the mentoring relationship that really makes the difference for them. The mentoring effect is alive and well at Generation Hope!
It was inspiring to meet and talk to so many people, representing a huge variety of programs, who all believe in the power of mentoring and are committed to creating the best possible programs. I was able to attend workshops on new research in mentoring, fostering a “growth mindset” among students, expanding a mentoring program, and more. I left inspired and full of ideas for how our program can better serve our Scholars and continue to expand the mentoring effect!
-Caroline Griswold Short, Program Manager