One of my earliest and most-treasured mentors is David Shapiro CEO of Mentor, “the unifying champion for expanding quality youth mentoring relationships in the United States.” I asked him to offer some reasons for becoming a mentor. Here’s what he told me:
“Currently, 1 in 3 young people reach age 19 without a mentor of any kind. Absent this critical guidance and support, an extraordinary amount is left to chance—and we are too often losing these children to hardship and hopelessness. It has been proven that young people with mentors both aspire to and reach college at a higher rate. They also have better self-esteem and they make better, more productive decisions.
“The more risk factors in a young person’s life, the less likely they are to connect to mentors ‘naturally.’ With such a powerful tool in our midst to improve the lives of young people, we have a responsibility to actively engage with them. We have to learn to notice the signs that a young person needs support and use what we know about quality mentoring to create and support them.
“It is for these reasons that Mentor was founded, more than twenty years ago. It has expanded from helping 300,000 young people in mentoring programs then, to helping 4.5 million today. It is our privilege to work to inform, connect, and fuel the mentoring movement in America—whether through the National Mentoring Month campaign in January, the National Mentoring Summit, our work on advocacy and policy to advance integration and support for mentoring, or our work to help get practitioners the best information from researchers to make their programs of the highest quality.”
As we celebrate National Mentoring Month, I hope you will share in the mentoring spirit. Consider making mentorship a part of your life. Mentoring shatters barriers that separate generations of people and cultures. Mentoring fosters respect, diversity, culture, and individuality. Mentoring develops the talent of our youth, who will then have the leadership skills to amend our social and economic woes.
This is the essence of Mentorology. We hope that you will become a mentorologist too, and help spread the good word of mentoring!
—Dawn Caroll, Over My Shoulder Director