It is always encouraged and appreciated when local businesses volunteer with nonprofits. The manpower and resources businesses are able to provide allow nonprofits to accomplish many things they wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to do, and often in a very short amount of time. But what would happen if businesses moved toward more long-term volunteer initiatives, such as mentoring youth?
In his article “Making the Business Case for Youth Mentoring”, Gary Belske states “when the private sector understands that mentoring is vital for its own future, it is reviving that old idea that a strong society, like a strong business, is one that ensures a skilled future workforce and a prosperous community”.
According to MENTOR, The National Mentoring Partnership, Students who meet regularly with mentors are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school, 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs, and 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities. Additionally, young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to enroll in college than those who did not have a mentor, and are also 78% more likely to volunteer regularly and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions. The benefits don’t only exist for the mentees; mentors also report benefiting from the relationship. Mentors have noted mentoring has helped them improve their self-esteem, gain a better understanding of other cultures, feel more productive at work, and enhance their relationships with their own children.
In addition to altruism and personal fulfillment, businesses getting more involved in mentoring could have many advantages for Delaware as a whole. In a joint position paper with MENTOR, Ernst & Young LLP (EY) notes, “One of the most pressing challenges facing society today is youth unemployment. In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 6 million youth, ages 16 to 24, who are disconnected from both work and school. One study estimates that the human potential lost as a result of our educational-achievement gap results in the economic losses equivalent to a permanent national recession.” According to delawarefocus.org, 12% of Delaware’s 16 to 24 year olds are currently disengaged from both work and school. Mentors from the business sector could help youth remain in school longer, and could assist them in choosing a future career path. Studies have repeatedly shown that having mentors or role models in their career field of interest increases students’ likelihood of obtaining college degrees in those fields.
EY’s study demonstrated that mentoring helped corporate businesses foster employee engagement, retention, and recruiting efforts as well as assisted companies in cultivating their own future workforce. In a state that is rapidly aging and therefore losing tax revenue, having a new generation of students developing personal connections with the state’s businesses could increase the chance that young people will choose to remain in Delaware and become part of our workforce after completing their post secondary studies.
Between the personal fulfillment and sense of accomplishment that your employees can gain from mentoring a young person, and the benefits that expanded corporate mentoring programs could bring to the State of Delaware as a whole, businesses should begin to encourage and incentivize employee participation in mentoring programs as soon as possible.
About the author:
Sarah is the Director of Mike’s T.E.A.M., a mentoring program offered through Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware in partnership with the Mike Clark Legacy Foundation. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Great Oaks Charter School in Wilmington. Prior to joining the Boys & Girls Clubs, she worked at Delaware State University and the Latin American Community Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communication from Temple University, a master’s degree in Global and International Education from Drexel University, and is currently obtaining her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Delaware State University. She is also certified in Nonprofit Management from the University of Delaware and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the International Language Institute.
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