The Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center youth mentoring program creates and supports one-on-one relationships between UIS students and young people in the Springfield community.
What does a mentor do?
Mentors are role models. Mentors do not act primarily as teachers, parents, coaches, or friends. Though they may take on different aspects of these roles at times, their primary job is to support and guide young people and to provide them with a positive perspective on life.
Mentors can take part in a wide variety of structured and unstructured activities with their mentees, including:
- Academic tutoring
- Informal sports and recreation
- Board games
- Self-evaluation exercises
Mentors are usually matched in September and meet with their mentee once a week for the rest of the academic year. Studies show that mentoring relationships that last 6 months or longer are far more likely to have positive impacts.
So how does mentoring help youth?
In well functioning families, the parents or guardians function as the positive role models that their children need to grow up successfully. Though no mentor can ever take the place of a good parent, a committed relationship between a youth and a responsible adult has been shown to have a significant impact on anti-social behavior.
In this study (.pdf), for example, youth involved in mentoring programs showed the following benefits:
- 45% less likely to use illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to use alcohol
- 32% less likely to hit their classmates
- 52% less likely to skip class
Beyond these statistical studies, our mentors often notice subtler, yet equally as important signs of improvement, such as:
- Improved eye contact
- More open communication
- More smiling!
- Improved appearance
- More positive perception of self
How do you become a mentor?
The first step is to contact our office, either by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling us at 217-206-7716, or by simply stopping by our office (Student Affairs Building, Room 60) anytime between 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM.
We will then need to discuss your schedule to find an ideal time for you to meet with your mentee every week. This is typically on Friday, as fewer students have class during that time. Currently, we run one on-campus program and two off-campus programs at local middle schools. Our mentoring program would not be possible without our partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Illinois Capital Region and Springfield School District 186.
Depending on the program, you will need to fill out a few application forms and/or undergo a brief interview. All participants will also be required to undergo a background check.
If you have any questions about mentoring, please contact us. We’re happy to help in any way we can.