Mentoring is a powerful development strategy for children’s successful path to adulthood

Mentoring relationships provide a wealth of social benefits that strengthen schools, families and communities through the alleviation of future costs on social services, promotion of first-generation college students, strengthening of family relationships, encouragement of healthy life choices, transformation of youth into independent adults and future leaders, building connections between generations, and increasing workforce preparedness and social capital to name just a few.

January is National Mentoring Month, and I would like to highlight the many proven benefits that mentoring provides.

Mentoring helps children stay in school. Studies of formal mentoring programs have shown:

Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school.

Students who meet regularly with their mentors are 37 percent less likely than their peers to skip a class.

Students at-risk for not graduating were 36 percent more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college if they had a mentor.

The relationships that mentoring provide go beyond education though, they provide a pathway to opportunity through the benefits that children who have a mentor experience.

Mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them.

Young adults who had mentors as kids are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college — and more than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team.

Young adults who had mentors as kids are paying it forward — they are 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities.

Mentoring Relationships provide a health benefit to the mentees (as well as the mentors).

Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are:

46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking.

Mentoring connects the private sector to more people in the community who could be the future workforce, benefiting both the mentees and the mentors:

Mentoring can be a critical component of successfully supporting youth career engagement and workforce development in three important ways: improving youth’s employability by building the necessary skills and work experiences that allow youth to succeed in a job and advance in a career path; facilitating continued academic engagement and achievement; and supporting youth in the development of non-cognitive skills necessary for successful employment.

Organizations in the private, public and nonprofit sectors that encourage employees’ involvement in mentoring have found that their programs enhance employee morale, and that mentoring is an excellent complement to staff training on “soft-skills” such as communication, team work and problem solving.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, we have many examples of how mentoring empowers children to be successful. Lately we have been hearing from many of our Bigs and Littles who graduated from the program and are staying connected and leading successful lives after the program.

Little brother Andrew runs a local coffee shop — Piccolo — in San Francisco and when two of our staff members went to get their morning cup of coffee a few weeks ago, and he found out where they worked, he told them that he was a little brother, matched over 20 years ago and still keeps in touch with his big brother who has been giving him advice as he manages a business.

Big Sister Simone reached out to us recently to let us know that her Little Sister ZZ (a match that was awarded the most inspirational match back in 2008) graduated from the University of South Carolina with her RN degree and has returned to the Bay Area to practice nursing! Simone says, “She has come a long way from the 10 year old soccer player I first met.”

These are just two of the many examples of how powerful mentoring can be. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area is helping to provide empowering relationships to Bay Area Children throughout the year.

During National Mentoring Month we hope that you will remember who mentored you, and consider providing support to Bay Area Youth.

If you are interested in learning more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, go to www.bbbsba.org.

Dawn Kruger is chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.

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