January 30-31, 2014 was the 4th annual Mentoring Works! National Mentoring Summit in Washington, D.C. and my first year of attendance at this conference. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, along with host committee members, planned a summit filled with timely, informative, and dynamic presentations and workshops. It was a very energizing summit and it renewed my sense of purpose for supporting Check & Connect programs across the country.
I was particularly moved by the panelist, James Anderson, in one of the plenary sessions. He talked very candidly about his personal experience as a youth in the juvenile justice system. He talked about the role that mentors had played in his life and offered advice for current mentors working with adjudicated youth.
The key role here is to stick it out. It’s not always being super involved. Sometimes you have to back away and let someone bump their heads a couple of times. Because at the end of the day you’re not responsible, they have to make their own decisions; because only someone who wants to change is going to change. But the fact that you stuck around, this person stuck around for 18 months. The first three-four months, I was thinking, “When are you going to leave?” The fifth and sixth month I’m thinking, “You’re showing pity, you pity me, you don’t care about me.” By the eighteenth month I’m like, “This person loves me, because I have nothing to offer and they are showing they are not trying to use me.” So stick in their lives through thick and thin.
This was an awesome conference. I felt an increased motivation for my work throughout the conference because of engaging speakers and content-rich sessions. After attending this conference, I have renewed confidence that mentoring does indeed work. However, another and possibly greater measure of conference quality is the amount of knowledge or materials which I can actually take away with me to apply to my work and share with others. This summit included several golden nuggets of take-away items including:
- knowledge of a soon to be launched National Mentoring Resource Center
- samples from the Mentor Training Toolkit
- a video link to an inspiring plenary session: Mentoring’s Role in Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline
National Mentoring Resource Center
There will soon be a new resource center to support youth mentoring. The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) was awarded a grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for the Development of a National Mentoring Resource Center. MENTOR aims to connect research, capacity building, and practice through this resource center. Key components of the planned center will include:
- What works section
- Searchable clearinghouse of resources
- Access to online webinars and training
- Opportunity to request training and resources
- Training and technical assistance opportunities
- Research board chaired by David Dubois, Ph.D. (lead co-editor of Handbook of Youth Mentoring), which will vet research and evidence-based practices for listing on the website
Ready To Go: Mentor Training Toolkit
One session provided information on how the Ready To Go: Mentor Training Toolkit was developed by the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development. The presenters were:
- Lisa Bottomly, Senior Mentoring Specialist
- Molly Frendo, Associate Program Leader
The presenters engaged the group in abbreviated versions of several of the training activities included in the curriculum. This curriculum is a great resource for Check & Connect project coordinators who are looking for ready-made professional development activities to use with their Check & Connect mentors. All of the activities are research-based and were developed by a team of 29 contributors, reviewed by 8 experts in the field, and piloted at 21 different sites. The curriculum includes 5 modules:
- Building the mentoring relationship
- Setting boundaries
- Youth development
- Cultural competencies
You can see for yourself what this curriculum has to offer: Free Introduction and Cover Pages PDF
Plenary Session: Mentoring’s Role in Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline
One of the main reasons I attended this conference was to see the panel discussion on Mentoring’s Role in Dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline, moderated by David Gregory from NBC’s Meet the Press. I was particularly interested in this session due to my role as Check & Connect trainer with the MAP Project, an evidence-based project which supports juvenile offenders with disabilities transitioning from Ramsey County Community Corrections facilities serving youth in Minneapolis/St. Paul into school, employment, and community programs.
The four panelists for this session brought a wealth of knowledge and experience.
- Robert Listenbee, Administrator of the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- Roger Jarjoura, Principal Researcher, Human and Social Development Program, American Institutes for Research
- Laurie Parise, Executive Director and Founder, Youth Represent
- James Anderson, Program Administrator, Anti-Recidivism Coalition
A video link for this entire 49-minute session is available on the MENTOR website. Click here to link to video.
I plan to attend the 5th annual National Mentoring Summit in January 2015. How about you?
Host Committee Members
- Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
- Harvard School of Public Health
- U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
- United Way Worldwide
About the Author: Eileen Klemm, M.A. is the project coordinator for Check & Connect presenting training nationally, facilitating the Check & Connect Coordinators’ Community of Practice, and providing leadership in the overall training and support of the Check & Connect model.
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