Other Youth Topics

Starting a Program

Developing a mentoring program is a great way to get involved and make a valuable contribution in your community. Taking time to plan carefully before the program begins can eliminate a lot of barriers during the implementation process.

  1. Assess the needs and resources available in the community and see if there are existing programs with a similar mission or with which you might be able to collaborate. Learn more about community assessments and view other youth serving programs in your area.
  2. Design the parameters of the program.
    • Define the youth population that will be served.
      • Consider age, gender, mentoring need, and common characteristics.
    • Identify who you will recruit as mentors.
    • Determine the type of mentoring relationships (e.g., who will be served, and how they will be served?).
    • Determine the focus of the mentoring relationships.
    • Determine where the mentoring sessions will occur.
    • Determine how often mentors and mentees will meet and the desired length of the mentoring matches.
    • Determine desired outcomes.
    • Determine if the program will stand alone or collaborate with other programs.
    • Identify key stakeholders and generate buy-in.
    • Plan how the program will be evaluated.
    • Develop policies and procedures to support the program.
      • Establish a case management protocol to ensure communication with mentors and mentees.
  3. Plan how the program will be managed (e.g., organizational structure).
    • Identify a management team.
      • Ensure clear roles.
    • Establish policies and procedures.
    • Implement ongoing training.
    • Develop a financial plan (e.g., securing funding streams, establishing internal controls).
  4. Implement the program.
  5. Continuously evaluate the program and adjust as needed (MENTOR, 2005).

One way to get additional assistance in both the planning and implementation stages is to reach out to a national mentoring organization or collaborate with other community organizations, schools, businesses, and programs in order to access resources and learn from the experiences of others.


MENTOR. (2005). How to build a successful mentoring program using the elements for effective practice. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/program_resources/elements_and_toolkits?eeptoolkit

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