October 25, 2023, Durham, NC – iRT is pleased to announce the release of Building Assets Together: A Guide for Youth Mentors.
Before and throughout their mentoring relationships, mentors often ask staff at their mentoring program for ideas for activities to do with their mentee. Most staff have readily available lists, websites, or brochures of activities to provide to mentors to address this request; however, these resources may not provide clear guidance to mentors for planning activities that incorporate their match’s specific goals, align with their mentee’s strengths and interests, or directly contribute to positive outcomes for their mentee. Research has shown that mentoring activities that are goal-directed, collaborative, and relevant to the match’s needs can help mentees feel closer to their mentor, reduce obstacles to the mentoring relationship, and positively impact mentee outcomes (Karcher & Hansen, 2014; Karcher et al., 2010; Parra et al., 2002). For these reasons, it is vital that mentoring program staff have access to resources to provide to mentors that help them plan goal-oriented activities to do with their mentee and provide them with strategies to foster positive mentee outcomes during their day-to-day match interactions. iRT developed the Building Assets Together (BAT) Guide to directly address the recurring request of mentors for effective, useful suggestions of activities to do with their mentees by providing them with a resource that contains a curated springboard of ideas of possible goal-oriented match activities.
The BAT Guide is organized into 10 core topics, each targeting a specific positive mentoring relationship goal or “asset” that mentors should work towards at different stages in the mentoring relationship. When mentoring program staff and mentors communicate about and understand these goals, mentors are better able to plan match activities that contribute to positive outcomes for their match, and it is easier for mentors and staff to assess change in mentees, as well as determine strengths and areas for improvement in the mentoring relationship. Each topic within the Guide includes suggestions for activities to do with a mentee, talking points and conversation-starters for matches, and proven strategies that mentors can use to attain these important mentoring relationship goals and assets. With access to the BAT Guide, mentors learn strategies to get acquainted with their mentee, set personal and academic goals with their mentee, help their mentee prepare for upcoming holidays, support their mentee in school and their interests, practice making positive healthy decisions with their mentee, model a positive friendship for their mentee, and more.
The BAT Guide’s content is designed to be simple to follow and provide suggestions for mentors at several points in their mentoring relationship, whether their match has recently begun or they have already gotten to know their mentee. Many mentoring programs, especially school or afterschool site-based programs, are designed to last approximately a school year of nine to 10 months. Thus, the BAT Guide was designed to follow the lifecycle of an approximately 10-month-long mentoring relationship, with one main topic to coincide with each month of the match. However, mentors and mentoring program staff can spend as little as a week on a topic or as much time as they like until they think that they have adequately addressed the goals associated with the topic.
Regardless of match length, the BAT Guide makes it simple for mentors to find suggestions for match activities and talking points that coincide with the mentoring goals relevant to their match at various points in their mentoring relationship. The Guide’s topics are organized to follow some of the established stages that occur across the life of a mentoring relationship:
- Initiation (Topics 1-3): This stage occurs when a mentor and mentee begin a mentoring relationship and start to get to know each other.
- Growth and Maintenance (Topics 4-9): During this stage of a mentoring relationship, mentors and mentees have gotten to know one another, but they are still continuing to build their relationship, while focusing their activities on helping mentees achieve their academic or personal goals.
- Closure or Redefinition (Topic 10): At this stage in the mentoring relationship, matches have reached a time when they need to plan and end their participation in the program. Alternatively, programs may allow matches to continue to meet beyond the originally agreed upon length of the program, requiring everyone to redefine the mentoring relationship.
The BAT Guide not only provides guidance to mentors to help them meet goals of their mentoring relationship but also encourages mentors to prioritize and support their mentee’s individual goals and assets. Given that research has demonstrated the positive impacts of goal-directed and personalized mentoring activities on mentee outcomes, the BAT Guide uses a person-centered, asset-based approach to mentoring. Each section provides flexible options for activities for mentors to do with their mentee, which can be tailored according to each mentee’s individual strengths, goals, interests, needs, and resources, as well as their individual, familial, and community characteristics and backgrounds. Mentors are provided with guidance to identify their mentee’s personal, interpersonal, and environmental assets and then, try to strengthen or grow these assets during their day-to-day interactions. In addition to match activity suggestions and conversation starters, the Guide includes sections for note-taking, so mentors can print their Guide and record their thoughts after doing activities with their mentee or write notes in preparation for their match meetings.
The BAT Guide is intended to be used by mentors who have completed pre-match mentor training, so they may build upon their existing core, foundational knowledge of mentoring, such as knowledge of what mentoring is, why mentoring is effective, realistic expectations for mentoring, and the goals and roles of mentors. The BAT Guide is available in a downloadable and printable PDF format, so mentors can access the Guide as a digital or print copy.
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Karcher, M., & Hansen, K. (2014). Mentoring activities and interactions. Handbook of Youth Mentoring (2nd ed., pp. 63-82). SAGE Publications, Inc.
Karcher, M. J., Herrera, C., & Hansen, K. (2010), “I dunno, what do you wanna do?”: Testing a framework to guide mentor training and activity selection. New Directions for Youth Development, 2010(126), 51-69. https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.349
Parra, G. R., DuBois, D. L., Neville, H. A., Pugh-Lilly, A. O. & Povinelli, N. (2002), Mentoring relationships for youth: Investigation of a process-oriented model. Journal of Community Psychology, 30(4), 367-388. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.10016