Youth who have a positive relationship with an adult are FIVE TIMES more likely to graduate
The Building Futures Mentoring Program helps Bay Area youth ages 6-18 develop tools to cope with issues such as low self-esteem, family and peer conflicts, academic underachievement and decision-making skills through a positive adult-child relationship. Volunteer mentors meet with mentees once each week to support them with challenges occurring in their lives while engaging in enriching community activities. Mentors don’t need any special skills, just a desire to make a difference!
WHY WAS BUILDING FUTURES CREATED?
- This free program was established to serve the needs of young people not being met by existing youth services.
- To offer over-stressed families a resource to help meet their children’s needs.
- To provide youth with positive, growth-inducing relationships with adults through the mentoring process.
- To make a difference in a child’s life.
WHAT TYPE OF YOUTH DOES THE PROGRAM SERVE?
- Elementary, Middle and High School-aged children and their families
- Young people experiencing problems such as low self-esteem, poor academic performance, truancy, peer difficulties, family conflict and poor decision-making skills.
- Youth from a wide range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.
- Youth encompassing a variety of family backgrounds including intact families, single-parent families, blended families, foster home and/or grandparent and other relative-headed families.
HOW ARE YOUNG PEOPLE REFERRED TO THE PROGRAM?
- From other YMCA enrichment programs
- From local community and mental health services
- From school counselors, teachers and principals.
- From parents and guardians.
All referrals to the Building Futures go through an application process and an initial telephone and face-to-face screening with the Program Coordinator. This process helps determine whether or not each child is appropriate for the program. Those children assessed to have mental health problems not appropriate for our program will be referred elsewhere. The types of issues not likely to be handled by our mentors include: acute depression, homicidal or suicidal behavior, drug/alcohol dependence and violent behavior.
WHO ARE BUILDING FUTURES MENTORS?
- Volunteers form the local community who wish to make a positive impact on the self-esteem of young people.
- Men and women ages 23 - 60+
- Adults from varied cultural, educational and professional backgrounds.
- Mentors are actively recruited within the YMCA community, community agencies, local corporations, universities and by word of mouth of current mentors.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF BUILDING FUTURES MENTORS?
- Mentors will complete 4 weeks of paraprofessional training before being assigned to a mentee.
- Mentors commit to spending 1-3 hours each week with a child for one year.
- After an initial in-person interview with the Program Coordinator, Mentors complete a volunteer application and undergo fingerprinting/background checks as well as 2 personal and 2 professional reference checks.
- Mentors must have valid auto liability insurance as well as a DMV driving record (if they plan to drive their mentee)
HOW ARE MENTORS SUPPORTED ONCE THEY’VE COMPLETED THE TRAINING AND BEEN “MATCHED” WITH A CHILD?
The Building Futures program is committed to on-going training and support for all volunteer mentors, and the Program Coordinator is actively involved in goal-setting and on-going planning with all mentors and their mentees.
Mentors are encouraged to attend a monthly support group meeting which is lead by the Program Coordinator who is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. This on-going support is considered vital because it provides structure for the mentors as well as on-going training and development of counseling skills. Individual telephone support is also provided on a regular basis. When needed, the Program Coordinator can serve as a liaison between the mentor and the mentee’s family to work through any issues that may arise in the mentoring relationship.
HOW CAN I, AS A PARENT, SUPPORT MY CHILD’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR NEW MENTOR?
It is very important to choose a regular meeting day and time with your child’s mentor as soon as possible. This will help establish the consistency and structure that children need. It will also ease any scheduling difficulties that could prevent the mentor from meeting with your child weekly. Please remember that the relationship between the mentor and your child will be most effective if they are allowed confidentiality. Mentors are trained to discuss any situations with you in which the safety and well being of your child may be jeopardized. However, it can be therapeutic for your child if you allow privacy within the mentor/mentee relationship. If you have any questions, concerns, or are feeling uncomfortable for any reason, it is important to call and discuss it immediately with the Program Coordinator. Children will be more willing to participate fully in the new relationship if they know their parents are comfortable with it.