IWCO Direct has long been a proponent of youth mentorship and has joined the ranks of leading Minnesota companies like Target, Best Buy, 3M and General Mills who are committed to raising awareness about mentoring. Over the past 14 years, Jim Andersen (CEO) and I have served on the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM) Board of Directors and continue to work with the organization to enhance programs and ensure that the Chanhassen and Little Falls communities are “mentor rich.”
If you or your company has an interest in getting involved with mentoring in Minnesota, the MPM is a great place to start. Since 2016 is an election year, the MPM is shaking up its traditional mentoring conference and will convene a Mentoring Caucus, as caucuses invoke a spirit of coming together to focus on a particular goal or issue. The MPM is inviting its peers to learn, debate and discuss new and emerging trends and best practices in the mentoring and youth development fields.
The statistics on the need for mentors in Minnesota are staggering:
- More than 250,000 young people are in need of a mentor.
- Every high school drop-out costs state taxpayers more than $500,000 over the student’s lifetime.
- The 14,000 students who dropped out in 2015 are costing Minnesota companies approximately $275 million and individual taxpayers $3.4 billion.
- Quality adult to youth mentoring can help young people do better in school and influence their decision to stay in school.
This Mentoring Caucus is the only professional development opportunity designed exclusively for mentoring program staff. The focus will be on new and emerging trends, and stems from feedback by mentoring programs across the region. The demand for professional development in the areas of Social Emotional Learning (SEL), how to talk with youth about race, how to better engage your volunteers, youth initiated mentoring, working with LGBTQ youth, crisis communication and risk management (among many others) were at the top of the requests for presentations.
As the only conference designed for mentoring programs in the region, organizations both big (Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Clubs) and small (One-2-One, Bolder Options, Mentor Duluth) located throughout the Twin Cities Metro to rural programs in North Dakota or Wisconsin, will be represented. Utilizing technology and volunteers, MPM will lead live, interactive polling and networking opportunities for participants. The goal is to tap into the varying depth and wealth of knowledge and experiences from the audience to provide a collaborative and educational experience for all participants.
In order to allow Mentoring Caucus attendees to learn from both the speakers and each other, experts from across the mentoring and youth development fields have been enlisted to engage audience members through interactive, “working” workshops. This format will also allow everyone to engage and then distill common experiences and thoughts for in-depth, in-person discussion. Some workshop highlights include:
- “SEL Assessment in the Mentoring Context: Sprockets’ Pilot of the HAS Framework and Measurement Tool” will allow attendees to engage with the latest Social Emotional Learning research, which is a topic gaining in both popularity and research to prepare today’s youth in the 21st Century.
- “How to Talk to Kids About Race” will help attendees facilitate conversation between mentors and mentees served in light of current events in the United States. This may prove especially helpful to mentors/mentees that come from different racial backgrounds or experiences to create a dialogue about the similarities and differences of their experiences.
- “Mentoring Youth Exposed to Trauma” will help share and unpack recent research to ensure attendees are following best practices and up-to date in their methods.
- “It’s Okay to Call Us Queer and Other Things to Know About Us” will allow attendees to learn and discuss issues surrounding LGBTQ youth mentoring as the topic continues to be discussed in schools and media. The workshop may be especially useful to attendees who work with more rural or isolated youth that may have limited exposure to other LGBTQ communities.
Whether you’re new to the mentorship field or a seasoned practitioner, the Mentoring Caucus will provide you with valuable professional development opportunities, an array of thought-provoking, hands-on workshops, and networking with your peers. It’s taking place next Wednesday, September 21 at the TIES Conference Center in Falcon Heights, MN. You can visit Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota’s Event page for more information or click here to register. We hope to see you there!
Not in Minnesota but interested in mentoring? The National Mentoring Resource Center serves as a comprehensive and reliable resource for mentoring tools and information, as well as program and training materials. You can learn more at the National Mentoring Resource Center website.
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