Other Youth Topics


  1. Youth Topics
  2. Mentoring
  3. Starting a Mentoring Program

Starting a Mentoring 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

Other Resources on this Topic


Technical Assistance

Youth Topics

Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).