A guest blog post by David Shapiro —
David Shapiro is CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, the unifying national organization for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships and connecting volunteers to opportunities in their local communities.
For anyone invested in supporting young people and expanding pathways to opportunity, mentoring is an accessible way to turn belief into action. Mentoring empowers adults to bring their presence, perspective, and experience to youth and, together, achieve real, observable results. The private sector is full of compassionate and aware problem solvers who, both as individuals and entities, see their place in working to close the mentoring gap. We see the private sector both use their brand power and platforms to raise awareness amongst consumers while also creating space for employees to get engaged in the community. These motivations and characteristics serve as the foundation for the great partnerships we’ve forged with private sector leaders like the NBA, Nike, Deloitte, EY, Bank of America, AT&T, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Now more than ever, as news of divisions and discord permeate, the ability to promote and activate the power of relationships as a proven solution is compelling to many potential private sector partners.
When corporations look to invest in their values, they – like the rest of us – want to know that investment is likely to be successful. Fortunately, we have the data to support investing time and money into mentoring. Research shows that youth with a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer, and 81% more likely to engage in sports or extracurricular activities. One study from Wilder Research and the University of Minnesota showed that for every dollar invested in effective mentoring programs, there is a return of almost three dollars down the line. Additionally, many of our corporate partners have mounting evidence that employee engagement in the community and more specifically, mentoring, leads to advantages in employee recruitment, retention, and skill building.
Here are a few priorities for those companies looking to make an impact:
- Identify how their values and mission align with those of mentoring, as well as listen to the interests and goals of their employees about community engagement. This focus will allow the organization to more clearly identify what they want to accomplish and create an action plan that is responsive to employees. They should then find a partner, typically a non-profit or school in the mentoring or education space, and identify both parties’ assets, individual, and shared goals for the partnership, and then roll-out a plan.
- Encourage the most important resource – its body of compassionate employees – to volunteer and offer their experience to youth. This will necessitate active communication and involvement of leadership.
- Communicating results – both for the purposes of celebration and course correction- is integral to maximizing partnership sustainably and impact.
On our end, we look for partners who are not only going to contribute to our work, but also push us to do it better. When the private and non-profit sectors come together, they can demonstrate the power of relationships at so many levels- across sectors, generations, and worlds- and ultimately help better thread together our communities and narrow opportunity divides.