For #VegasTech community members interested in a new mentorship opportunity for busy professionals, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada has a solution — mentor2.0. Just one email per week and one in-person meeting per month is all that’s needed to help inspire high school students to become college ready.
The organization is hosting an information session on August 12, 2015 at The Innevation Center. The session is designed to highlight the details of the hybrid technology/in-person mentoring model of mentor2.0. Attendees will discover what volunteers can expect to experience as mentors.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada (BBBSN) is the region’s largest donor and volunteer supported youth mentoring organization,” said Kyle Dunlap, Community Relations Manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada. “We provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Our organization has served over 20,000 youth since our inception in 1973. We currently have over 600 children waiting for a mentor in Southern Nevada. We ask that our mentors, or Bigs, volunteer just four hours per month and are able to make an 18 month commitment to their mentee, or Little.”
Dunlap says the organization’s mentor2.0 program is an innovative mentoring program. The team hopes to leverage 21st century technology and tools to reach and engage at-risk high school students. The goal is to connect them with mentors who have college degrees and the skills to help them complete high school and enroll in advanced education programs.
“mentor2.0 was developed by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America using technology from iMentor,” he explained. “iMentor was founded in 1999 with the mission to build mentoring relationships that empower students in low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college and achieve their ambitions.iMentor is currently serving over 3,500 students with its direct service program in New York City and 2,200 students nationwide through collaborative partnerships with agencies such as BBBSN.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada will join nine other Big Brothers Big Sisters sites across the country who have already implemented the program. Dunlap says these sites have had outstanding outcomes to date.
“In the mentor2.0 pilot in Dallas, TX, 88% of youth maintained or improved in 5 of the 7 youth outcomes areas during the first year of mentoring,” he said. “BBBSN is proud to be the only organization in Nevada to partner with iMentor to achieve the goal of increased high school graduation rates, while preparing youth for success in college.”
The work Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is doing is getting attention for it’s effectiveness. In his speech at the College Opportunity Summit in January 2014, President Obama acknowledged the work of iMentor.
“We know that not enough low-income students are taking the steps required to prepare for college,” the President said. “It’s why iMentor has committed to matching 20,000 new students with mentoring in more than 20 states over the next five years.”
Beginning in September of 2015, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada will launch mentor2.0 in Valley High School.
“On-time graduation rates for Clark County hover around 50% – among of the lowest in the nation,” Dunlap explained. “BBBSN chose to work with Valley High School because many of its students are considered “at-risk” of not graduating on time, or at all. BBBSN is confident that the introduction of mentor2.0 will contribute to a successfully increase high school attendance and graduation rates as well as college preparedness.”
The unique elements of mentor2.0 include weekly email communication between mentor and mentee through research-based curriculum emails on the secure iMentor Interactive platform. In addition, the mentor and mentee commit to meet for in-person group events every 4-6 weeks to support the program goals.
Dunlap says there is an attractiveness in the opportunity to mentor and make a positive difference in the life of a high school student from virtually anywhere.
“mentor2.0 maintains our research-based mentoring program of one-to-one mentoring while providing busy adult professionals with a new model of flexibility,” said Dunlap. “Beyond academic preparation, students receive individualized support as they apply to college and develop skills to succeed. The flexible volunteer model allows BBBSN to recruit previously unreachable volunteers (those who have such busy work schedules that a commitment to weekly in-person contact is not possible), and to increase the number of high school-aged youth our agency serves.”
When it comes to volunteering, Dunlap says the most common concern from individuals he sees is that they are too busy to commit or their schedules do not allow for them to volunteer.
“Our mentoring programs truly only require that volunteers commit four hours per month to their mentee,” he said. “Combined with the ability to mentor from any device that has internet connectivity, mentor2.0 presents a realistic option for busy professionals to make an impact and inspire a high school student to succeed and continue on to higher education.”
The information session on August 12, 2015 will be an opportunity for those interested in volunteering to meet current Bigs from the traditional youth mentoring programs as well as BBBSN staff members who are committed to making Mentor2.0 a successful program.
“Complimentary hors d’ouevres and beverages will be served, courtesy of The Divine Cafe. When the event concept was created and a meeting space was needed, BBBSN reached out to one of the most recognized and influential technology companies in Southern Nevada, Switch. Switch kindly donated space at The Innevation Center for the info session,” said Dunlap.
For those that are unable to attend the event on August 12, 2015 but are still interested in becoming a mentor2.0 volunteer, apply here: bbbsn.imentor.org