About Mentoring

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone who, along with parents, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and positive example.  Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out the strengths that are already there.

A Mentor Is: 

  • A trusted friend
  • A good listener
  • A positive role model
  • Someone who has been there
  • Someone who can introduce a young person to new ideas and opportunities

A Mentor Is Not:

  • A parent
  • A therapist
  • A chauffeur
  • An ATM Machine
  • A savior

Different Ways to Mentor

There are many types of mentoring experiences.  Sometimes youth are mentored informally through a natural connection between themselves and a caring adult who may be a relative, neighbor, teacher, coach or someone in their faith community.  There are also formal mentoring opportunities where there is a connection between a caring adult and a young person through an organized, mentoring-focused program.

One to one mentoring pairs one adult and one youth to form a friendship.

Team mentoring is a group of at least two adults working together to mentor a young person(s).

Group mentoring is one adult volunteer building relationships with a group of young people.

E-mentoring allows mentors to exchange e-mails or other forms of electronic communication with young people.  This type of mentoring usually involves a partnership between a business and a school.

Types of Mentoring Programs

School-based:  Mentors come to the school to meet with mentees during or after school.  They may do school work together, play games, talk or work on special projects.  Mentors receive support from school staff and must be screened according to school policies and sign-in when they arrive.

Site-based:  Mentors and mentees meet at a set location such as a place of worship, community center, YMCA or Boys & Girls Club.  Mentors and mentees may do a variety of activities together, including homework, read, play games, make projects or play sports.  Mentors and mentees receive supervision from program staff and must be screened according to the agency’s policies.

Community-based:  Mentors and mentees meet according to their own schedules and at locations that the pair decides.  Mentors may be responsible for transporting mentees.  Activities may include trips to the park, museums, sporting events, libraries, concerts or spending time at the mentor’s home.  Mentors are more likely to interact with the mentee’s family in community-based programs than with the other program types.  Mentors receive support from program staff and must be screened according to the agency’s policies.

Workplace-based:  These programs generally operate as a partnership between the workplace and a community organization.  Mentors and mentees may meet at the workplace, a community site or a combination of the two.  Workplace-based programs usually have an academic or career focus.  Mentors receive support from the program staff and must be screened according to the agency’s policies.


(Courtesy of Virginia Mentoring Partnership)