Children of prisoners are a hidden population. They are often living in unstable situations and are at a greater risk for academic and emotional challenges or succumbing to risky behaviors.
Mentoring can provide the caring, consistent presence of an adult friend that research has shown to be a major protective factor in building resilience among at-risk youth. Mentors have been the reason that a child decides to go to school instead of getting into trouble. They’ve been the reason children have taken an interest in music, art, or sports. Most importantly, they provide compassion and companionship to children who are often in high-risk situations.
“My mentee and I have been together for 4 years. She still seems excited to see me when I arrive for our visit. I get so much from her optimism and resilience. She has a lot on her shoulders. I know without a doubt having a mentor makes a difference. I am so very glad that Seedling exists to ensure students of incarcerated parents have a mentor.”
Much of our success can be attributed to the depth and longevity of the mentoring relationship. The retention rate for Seedling mentors averages 70-75%, far exceeding the national average.
Before becoming a mentor, you will need to:
✓ Register and complete the Profile thoroughly.
✓ Complete active participation in a 2.5 hour New Mentor Orientation.
✓ Pass a background check and reference checks.
✓ Respond promptly to phone calls and email.
✓ Comply with program ethics and boundaries.
Mentors and mentees in designated schools are matched through a multi-step process that includes information about the importance of their role prior to their introduction to a child. Once this orientation is complete and their work with their student begins, we continue educating mentors and providing support based on research findings and best practices.
Our promise is to support you as a mentor. In addition to our initial orientation, experienced professional staff members provide ongoing training and support:
→ Help in selecting a nearby school and personalized mentor matching with students.
→ Support meetings to discuss experiences with other mentors.
→ Monthly newsletters with discussion tips, activities, and school holiday notifications.
→ Monthly conversations regarding the match relationship.
→ Informal lunchtime opportunities to learn from experts about topics such as the impact of poverty, the transition to middle school, and setting goals for the future.
“My mentor makes me feel that I am a smart person in school and she believes that I can do anything.”
Seedling mentors meet once a week with their mentees for 30-45 minutes at school during the student’s lunch break for one academic year or more. Depending on the child’s age, a mentor might color with them, read to them, create a craft, play a game, or simply spend the time talking. Additionally, qualities that make great mentors include the following:
→ 21+ Years of Age
→ A schedule and access to transportation that allows them to make a firm commitment
→ Belief that a young person can be an interesting friend
→ Great listeners
→ Willingness to comply with all program policies and procedures
→ Ability to maintain respectful confidentiality regarding their mentee
→ Commitment to honor the authority and role of the child’s parent or caregiver
“It has become a weekly thing for us. Every Tuesday he waits for me excitedly and I enjoy how happy he is to see me.”
Become a mentor by simply giving 1 lunch hour a week of your time to a deserving student.