Mentoring is a great way to influence a life. These organizations will support you in building long-term mentoring relationships. Some programs will have to wait until we’re free to socialize in person again, but some operate virtually and offer a great way to help from home.
Here are one-time mentoring opportunities.
This national organization has a database of opportunities for mentoring people twenty-four and younger, searchable by zip code. You can filter by geography, age of people you’d like to mentor, type of mentoring and how you’d like to provide mentoring (online, one-on-one, group). Filters also include young people who are pregnant, homeless, academically gifted, struggling parents and first-generation college students.
BBBS was founded in 1904 when Ernest Coulter, a New York City court clerk, saw more and more children coming through his courtroom and recognized that caring adults could help many of them stay out of trouble. Since then, BBBS has grown across the United States and facilitates more than a hundred thousand mentoring relationships every year. As a mentor you’ll spend a few hours twice a month with a child. The goal is to create lifelong friendships, but you’re committing only for a year.
CASA supports children who are going through the judicial system because they’ve experienced neglect or abuse. Advocates are paired with children whom they get to know, and they help judges and others to understand what the children need in order to find safe permanent homes. As a volunteer, you’ll complete thirty hours of training and then you’ll be matched with a child and be expected to volunteer for the length of their case. A case generally lasts a year and a half and requires about ten hours a month. Research has shown that children paired with a CASA volunteer have a much higher likelihood of finding a safe permanent home, do better in school and are less likely to be bounced from home to home.
This AARP program matches adults fifty and older with students in kindergarten through third grade who are struggling to read. You’re expected to complete twenty-five hours of training, and you’ll choose to volunteer from five to fifteen hours a week during the school year.
This network of national service programs provides a listing of opportunities for seniors fifty-five and older to serve as foster grandparents, community volunteers, and role models and mentors to individuals and companies. More than two hundred thousand Americans currently volunteer through Senior Corps.
Working in New York City’s public school system, Adam Aberman was struck by the scarcity of guidance counselors. Each counselor was responsible for the course selection, career exploration and postsecondary school planning for hundreds of students. How would children, especially first-generation college-bound students, get the support they needed?
Aberman founded iCouldBe to change that with an online mentoring program that’s integrated into classrooms. Students choose their mentor from a roster of volunteers, typically a professional working in a career field of interest. One class period per week, students work on e-mentoring activities related to academic success, career exploration and postsecondary educational planning. Mentors commit to one hour a week of online mentoring during the school year. Because the mentoring is done online through electronic messages and not in real time, mentors can participate any time they can log on to their computers to answer questions, share feedback on their mentees’ activities and provide encouragement.
Please note that this opportunity is only for companies. Employers pay a fee to support the program, and their employees become mentors to aspiring college students.
In his junior year of high school, Michael Carter transferred from a private school to a public school. At the private school, most students had been preparing for college. At the public school, his friends with solid grades weren’t preparing for college, because they assumed they couldn’t afford to go. Michael wanted to do something about the college enrollment disparity, so when he entered Washington University, he started a pilot program in which he and fellow students provided a year of college-prep mentoring to low-income students at a local high school. The school’s college acceptance rate improved by over 85 percent, and Strive for College was born.
Strive for College connects aspiring college students from low-income families with free one-on-one online mentoring through the entire college admissions and financial aid application processes. Mentors must have or be working toward a college degree and commit to one hour a month.
Joseph Rivers had lived in a group home for his entire childhood and knew how difficult it was to turn eighteen and enter the world of adulthood with no caring support system. So in 1981 he founded what is today Foster Care to Success, which matches volunteer mentors with foster youths in college. Mentors make a one-year commitment to communicating at least once a week via phone, text, email or social media. FC2S estimates the time investment at one to three hours a week. Mentors must be twenty-five or older, participate in online training and attend monthly instructional conference calls.
When Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age twenty-six, he had never met anyone his age who was a cancer survivor, and he wanted to talk to someone who had faced the same type of cancer. To provide that for others, he founded Imerman Angels. The nonprofit matches people who have cancer with survivors of the same cancer. It also matches caregivers and those who have lost someone to cancer with people who have had the same experience. It tries to match people in similar phases of life so that there’s a deeper understanding of needs. Imerman Angels has matched people in more than ninety countries with mentors. You can sign up and find or become a mentor through its website. My wife found her Imerman Angel to be an invaluable support.
This program connects children facing serious and chronic illness with local college athletic teams, leading to lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes. Sign your sports team up.
This program pairs fifth through tenth graders from low-income communities with scientist pen pals. Macon Lowman started the letter-writing program when she was teaching sixth-grade science in rural North Carolina and realized that her students could use inspiration from real-world scientists. She teamed up with Anna Goldstein, a scientist who helped to foster a network of STEM professionals to serve as pen pals. Through one-on-one matching, students have the opportunity to ask a real scientist questions about college and broaden their awareness of what scientists do. Teachers facilitate eight to ten letter exchanges over the school year, and volunteer pen pals can be in science- or technology-related fields or in college. Volunteers register during the summer before the school year and are matched with kids interested in their particular fields.