Since 1995, The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA has been leading the local movement to connect young people with caring adults. We are unique in our inclusive approach that encourages all youth programs to mentor – whether formally or informally – to provide guidance and support that will enable young people achieve their potential. As a resource to local programs, we are well aware of what mentoring programs exist, the level to which those programs meet best practices (Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring Programs) and the needs of said programs. Recruiting enough volunteer mentors to satisfy the demand is one of the biggest issues confronting us today. Through our work with program staff and volunteers, and increased efforts to raise awareness and recruit mentors, we have increased the number of youth being served by mentors by 400 percent since 1998. There are now nearly 20,000 youth being mentored in local programs. However, 1,325 local children remain on formal wait-lists, and many more could benefit from a mentor.
There are many organizations in our area that match and provide programs and activities to mentors and mentees; however, there are none that have the time or resources to consistently address the broader issues that affect the overall success of mentoring in our region. It is through our innovative approach to assessing and supporting programs as a servant-leader, that we are able to significantly impact the quality of mentoring in this region. Through individualized technical assistance, we are able to address both organizational and programmatic needs. Our work has a multiplier effect; enhancing not one agency, but hundreds; and affecting the lives of thousands of children each year.