Best Practice Youth Mentor Program Design Process

By Barry Sweeny, 2010

The Best Practice Youth Mentoring Program Design Process is the most proactive and preventative approach to youth mentoring program development. It includes the following steps which are best done in this sequence.

  1. Identify the various factors in youth success which your program will target:
    1. Academic?
    2. Personal?
    3. Spiritual?
    4. Interpersonal?
    5. Career?
  2. Define standards for each success factor toward which you will help the youth move.
  3. Find, or develop assessments, or using others’ data from their assessments, for each targeted factor.
  4. Assess youth knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) for each target factor.
  5. Define the typical “baseline” from which most youth will start (perhaps be age groups).
  6. Define the nature of the (KSA) gap which must be closed between youths’ current and the standards.
  7. Decide which program components will be used to address each need / factor identified.
    1. Orientation of proteges;
    2. Individual mentoring;
    3. Training of proteges;
    4. Protege peer support (learning) groups;
    5. Protege fun activities and social events;
    6. Protege observations and shadowing of experts
    7. Tutoring
    8. Family support or involvement events
    9. Field trips
  8. Identify the KSAs the mentors will need to effectively address that gap.
  9. Define the mentor’s roles and tasks to deliver the KSAs, and define the expectations for length and frequency of mentoring pair meetings.
  10. Investigate and select local police or other methods of mentor background screening.
  11. Develop a set of selection and matching criteria to place together mentors whose strengths match the needs of each of the youth.
  12. Define a process and timeline to check for mentor pair mismatches and define what will happen if any are found.
  13. Use a few potential mentors to assess the mentoring KSAs they have and they need.
  14. Decide the extent to which a program pilot will implement some or all of the program components for which of the targeted factors.
  15. Write out a program implementation plan and timeline.
  16. Develop a mentor training to address the mentoring KSAs that mentors need.
  17. Defne the extent and nature of program leader support, monitoring, and supervision to be provided to mentor pairs.
  18. Design mentor recruitment literature and an informational meeting to share program purpose and goals, screening and other procedures, mentor’s roles and tasks, expectations, and the support provided mentors.
  19. Recruit mentors, then apply the selection and matching criteria and mentor training.
  20. Develop or find on-going assessment tools and methods for assessing child development and monitoring progress against the standards, address the child’s developmental needs, remove obstacles to growth, and ensure the child’s continued growth and progress.
  21. Design other program evaluation tools and methods to assess extent of program implementation, success of each activity, and program progress toward program goals.
  22. Begin the pilot program implementation, ongoing assessments, and monitoring.
  23. Adjust the pilot program as needed to integrate learning from the process and improve results.
  24. Adjust the program model or any components, and the implementation plan based on learning in the pilot.