What Makes a Good Mentor?

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A big part of my job is talking to potential Generation Hope Sponsors, and one of the concerns I often hear expressed is whether or not they are “qualified” to be a Sponsor. I hear questions like, “I’m not a parent, can I be a good Sponsor?” “I wasn’t a teen mom, can I be a good Sponsor?” “I’m not in the education field, can I be a good Sponsor?” When I get these questions, I always answer the same way: at the end of the day, the most important quality in a Sponsor is a big heart. Sure, it’s cool if you can talk about parenting with your Scholar or if you work in a field they’re interested in, but that’s not where the most valuable mentoring takes place.

Think back to the mentors who have made a big difference in your life. Who were those people? If you’re anything like me, they aren’t necessarily the people who have had the same experiences as you or even people who knew a lot about your career or area of interest. When I think about the most important adults in my life, it’s quite a diverse group, but they do have a common thread: they cared. A lot. They cared about me as an individual, took an interest in my life, were willing to give me tough love when necessary, and refused to let me give up on myself. All of their expertise was nice, but much less crucial than their belief in me and their insistence that I believe in myself.

When I see our most successful Scholar-Sponsor relationships, the same theme emerges. Effective mentors care. They are good listeners, and they usually do more listening than talking. They’re willing to tell the truth, even when it isn’t easy to hear. They’re reliable: they do what they say they will do, and they make promises they can keep. They don’t try to be everything or claim to be perfect and they don’t promise that they know everything. And they genuinely enjoy their mentees and want to spend time with them! 

So, in short, what makes a good mentor? I’m sticking with my original answer: a big heart.

P.S. want to learn more about mentoring best practices? Check out this great resource from the National Mentoring Partnership:

-Caroline Griswold, Program Manager  

Why I Sponsor: Julie Kwon

Julie Kwon became a Generation Hope Sponsor this summer to Scholar Me’Chelle Campbell, who attends Prince George’s Community College while raising her daughter. Julie is also a mother to her two-year-old son and is expecting a second child and lives with her husband in Centreville, Virginia. 

Why did you decide to become involved in with Generation Hope?  

Julie meeting her Scholar, Me'Chelle, for the first time.

Julie meeting her Scholar, Me'Chelle, for the first time.

I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past two years, and I understand the challenges of raising a child. But for many teen mothers, it seems that those challenges are amplified by the demands of school, work, family, and all the changes that come with having a child at a young age. I joined Generation Hope because I want to be a source of support and encouragement to a teen mother who is striving towards stability, academic success, and a promising future for her and her child. 


Our First Sponsors: GEICO, OP3, and Nakiya

Where have we been for the past few months?  You haven't seen a blog post since May because we've been extremelybusy recruiting Scholars and Sponsors!  Today I introduced one of our first GH Scholars, Vivian, to the world.  Vivian wants to be a doctor, and we're so excited to be a part of her journey.  Now I want to tell you about three GH Sponsors - one company, one local agency, and one individual - who are making dreams a reality for our Scholars.

GEICO- The auto insurance company is providing the funding for one of our Scholars who will attend a community college in the DMV.  We're so excited to have this major powerhouse involved in our program.  We're even in discussions about possible GEICO Information Technology (IT) internships for Scholars who are interested in the computer science and IT fields.  We're going to match the Scholar with a caring individual from the community who will serve as their mentor.

Fairfax County Office of Public Private Partnerships- OP3, as they like to be called, will sponsor a Fairfax County student who will attend Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) this Fall.  Again, we'll take OP3's vital funding and pair it with a mentor from the community to create the total support for this student.

Nakiya - Nakiya is a doctor and a recent Master of Public Health grad living in Maryland who is passionate about helping people and the importance of education.  She will be sponsoring a student who has similar interests and passions.  We're very excited about Nakiya's participation in our program!

I wanted you to "meet" the awesome Sponsors who are already a part of our program.  Over the next few weeks we'll be matching them with our Scholars and creating these very special relationships. 

We need seven more Sponsors.  Will you, your business, or your organization join these three outstanding Sponsors in investing in the future of a teen parent?   For more info, please click here.

If I can answer any questions for you, please email me at  I'd love to have your involvement.

- Nicole