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MENTOR’s David Shapiro on Mentoring Opportunities

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At the 2014 National Mentoring Summit, our mentoring program was recognized as the “Most Robust and Comprehensive Local Youth Mentoring Program.” We were honored by this award and appreciated the opportunity it gave us to meet and speak with David Shapiro, CEO of the National Mentoring Partnership. We later followed up with David to hear his thoughts on mentorship. Read on to discover why mentoring relationships are key for young people and how our program is experiencing successful outcomes.

How does having a mentor change a young person’s life?
Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 2.26.15 PMMentors can come into a young person’s life at many different points in their development and in a lot of different life circumstances. But, at the end of the day, across the board, a quality mentoring relationship offers a young person a real connection to someone who they can count on to be there for them on a consistent basis to talk, to listen, to give advice and to open their minds to a future they may not have otherwise known could exist.

For many kids who are off track or at greater risk for falling off track, their connection to a mentor serves as a critical factor in navigating successful pathways to graduation, post-secondary education – whether it’s college or vocational training – and career. With a strong relationship at the center, mentors often serve as advocates, tutors, resource brokers and they, ultimately, empower young people. We recently asked 18 to 21 year olds about their mentoring experiences in a nationally representative survey called The Mentoring Effect. We found that those who had been at-risk students when they were younger but who had a mentor during that time were 55 percent more likely to be enrolled college or other post-secondary education.

What made Luxottica’s mentoring program stand out?
Luxottica’s mentoring initiative has two critical ingredients necessary to produce successful mentoring outcomes for both the youth involved and the adults. The first is a clear set of goals: to provide employees with a meaningful opportunity to have a real impact in the community where they live and work and to improve graduation rates and college matriculation rates in your community. Intentionality is key.

The second ingredient is a true understanding of the value of partnerships to meet those goals. Through a partnership with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC), Luxottica was able to leverage the experience of a leading youth development agency with experience operating a quality mentoring program. By aligning the company program with best practices, including mentor and mentee screening, matching, ongoing match support and closure, Luxottica strengthens the potential for producing positive outcomes and to sustain and expand the effort based on that success.

The Luxottica partnership with CYC brings with it the added benefit of working with Cincinnati Public Schools, which is also a differentiator. It allows for the mentoring program to bring its goals in line with the strategies and curriculum being used to deliver specific outcomes. Many private sector entities have the desire to align and partner with public schools but don’t have the experience navigating and integrating into what is a very complex system. The proof that this is a successful model is in the results: a 98% graduation rate for students participating in the program.

This is the first post in a two-post series exploring how mentoring impacts adults and the youth they serve. Tune in next week to learn about the National Mentoring Partnership’s work to advance mentoring opportunities across the nation.

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