Mentoring allows youth to connect with caring adults who can help them aspire, achieve and develop to their fullest potential. When youth have this type of support network, they benefit in the short- and long-term as do their families and communities.
This program is actually a subset of the Substance Abuse Prevention umbrella, but the outcomes from youth having a positive role model fit with each of our programs: healthy relationships, safe children, and responsible decision-making.
The four counties we serve have an estimated 10,500 youth between the ages of 5 to 18. Less than one percent of these youth have a role model through our mentoring services. Of course, we don't have the capacity to match all those youth, but for the youth we can match, this program equips the mentees to be positive examples for their peers, furthering the impact of mentoring.
The impact of mentoring can be seen in the smiles and stories as well as in the numbers and research. We use both types of data to ensure that these relationships are helping our mentored youth reach their fullest potential.
When comparing mentored youth to local youth without a mentor, the need for this structured program and its life-changing benefits is very visible.
How Our Mentoring Programs Began
During the mid 90s there was a lot of talk about mentoring. At an interagency meeting, the idea of starting a mentoring program in Winneshiek County was born. The program would help youth build self-esteem, gain skills to refuse substances, and have positive attitudes toward school and their community. Goals were added as the program developed, making the Six Goals of Mentoring.
In a time before internet or national mentoring websites to consult, the group borrowed forms, policies, brochures, and ideas from everyone that would lend their materials.
The initial groundwork for a mentoring program in our area began in 1996. Everyone contributed: pastors, community leaders, professionals working with youth, DHS staff, counselors, school personnel, media, and health professionals. They gathered for two years before developing the Winneshiek Program.
Without money, staff, or volunteers, the group stayed committed and persevered. This perseverance built our programs, and it continues to drive what we do.
In January 1998, Building Bridges Through Mentoring was on its feet. Soon after, Allamakee looked at what was developed. They liked the concept, mission statement, forms and policies, but they wanted their own name. Six months later, Howard County came to the same conclusion. In June 2010, Delaware County was added that uses the one-on-one model and offering school-based models of mentoring.
These programs have gained many willing volunteers and committed community members. Because of this support, the programs run smoother and opportunities stay open. This means local youth can get the encouragement they need to develop
important skills to stay safe and healthy.
Five Goals of Mentoring
Have positive relationships with peers and other caring adults.
Increase their self-esteem.
Increase or maintain their ability to resist to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Be hopeful about their future.
Increase or enhance their attitude toward school.
AmeriCorps Members Are on Our Team
AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 members in intensive service annually to serve through nonprofit, faith-based, and community organizations at 25,000 locations across the country. These members help communities tackle pressing problems while mobilizing millions of volunteers for the organizations they serve. Since 1994, more than 900,000 Americans have provided more than 1.2 billion hours of service to their communities and country through AmeriCorps. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
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