Discover High School Mentorship Programs
- High school mentorship programs can provide young people with strong role models.
- Mentors can help students mature mentally and emotionally, preparing students for college.
- Individuals with a high school mentor can also get career development help.
High school is a crucial time in our lives. In the years leading up to early adulthood, there's no doubt that solid role models and positive influences can make a big difference in the future lives of adolescents. But not all high schoolers have parents or teachers who can serve as mentors.
Fortunately, high school mentorship programs can help fulfill a critical need in our communities. Mentoring programs provide students with the opportunity to gain and refine important skills — such as problem-solving, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking — that can benefit them as they plan for college and/or enter the workforce.
Mentors may be able to offer even more one-on-one support than school guidance counselors. However, with so many programs out there, it's not always obvious which organization is right for your specific needs and goals. Keep reading to learn about the best high school mentorship programs available.
ACE Mentor Program
Started in 1994, the ACE Mentor Program supports high school students in their pursuit of careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. Comprising 70 chapters in 37 states, the program enrolls more than 10,000 students annually, connecting participants with over 4,100 volunteer mentors.
Student teams work with their mentors and take on actual roles within a design team, completing a 35-hour design project. Participants can also compete for more than $2.5 million in scholarships, visit construction sites, attend summer camps, and access industry internships.
Check & Connect
In the 1990s, Check & Connect began helping students at risk of dropping out of high school get back on track, and they continue their mission today. Implemented in 48 states, the program strives to increase student engagement and decrease dropout rates through targeted mentorship and relationship building.
The "Check" component of the program focuses on monitoring student performance based on factors such as absences, grades, and behavioral referrals in order to gauge how a student might be struggling. The "Connect" component provides individualized interventions aimed at equipping students with the problem-solving and communication skills needed to succeed in school.
Dell Scholars Program
Each year, the Dell Scholars Program provides 500 students with $20,000, a laptop, textbook credits, and access to support services. As part of the award, winners can leverage the Dell Scholars online community and student resource network, which includes peer mentoring from program ambassadors.
Available support services include educational and career advice, financial guidance, and professional counseling. To qualify, applicants must demonstrate financial need and earn a minimum GPA of 2.4.
FFAC National High School Mentorship
With the mission to educate students on sustainable food systems, the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition's National High School Mentorship program aims to inspire the next generation of changemakers. After being paired with mentors who are enrolled in the coalition's National College Internship program, mentees learn to develop their goal-setting and advocacy skills.
While there is no GPA requirement, admission into the program is still quite competitive. Students must demonstrate a commitment to the coalition's missions and submit a sample project, such as an academic essay, personal essay, video submission, or another creative piece.
FIRST Scholarship Program
Created to inspire and support students interested in science and technology, the FIRST Scholarship Program provides more than $80 million in annual scholarships from over 200 providers across the country. Applicants must complete the FIRST Tech Challenge or Robotics Competition to become eligible.
Once participants graduate high school, they become alumni, which grants them access to scholarship funding, along with networking and internship opportunities. The FIRST network also includes mentors and coaches. These experienced professionals provide leadership, answer questions, and help students overcome challenges.
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
Founded in 1999 to support students of color, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program provides financial support to more than 1,000 students each year. Additionally, scholars enjoy access to the program's academic empowerment services, which include academic resources, internship opportunities, and mentoring.
Mentors include program alumni who wish to give back and help the next generation of members become industry leaders. Student participants can join the Flash Mentoring Program for one-time skills development and career advice or partake in a topic-specific, peer-run mentoring circle.
GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program
Since 2011, the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program has provided more than $7.4 million to 185 award recipients. Winners receive a renewable $10,000 scholarship and gain access to an awards program, which includes mentorship and leadership development opportunities.
Available mentorship and leadership programs include a student leadership camp and a leadership semester in Washington, D.C. Applicants need a minimum GPA of 3.0 and must demonstrate leadership qualities in their school and community.
Give Something Back
Give Something Back provides at-risk high school students with financial aid and access to a supportive mentorship network. Available to students from partner schools in seven states, the program has delivered more than 1,500 college scholarships and over $36 million in funding throughout its history.
At Give Something Back, volunteer mentors help students set educational and career goals. They also provide advice and listen to student concerns. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, academic proficiency, and strong character.
Dedicated to expanding opportunities for young people, MENTOR has been connecting youth with quality mentors for more than 30 years. By pairing high school students with mentors in diverse fields and with diverse backgrounds, the program strives to level the playing field for all students.
Mentors focus on their mentee's specific needs, such as setting academic and career goals, making healthy choices personally and socially, and thinking critically through problems. Because MENTOR links students with mentors from local programs throughout the country, acceptance requirements vary.
Mentor Foundation Career Mentoring Program
Designed to teach underserved students the skills needed to thrive in higher education, the Mentor Foundation Career Mentoring Program connects students with mentors to improve their educational and career outcomes. Students in the program may also access up to $40,000 in scholarships.
The mentoring program runs monthly sessions for 15-20 students, during which mentors help young people plan for the future and prepare for school and the workplace. Mentors also provide advice and help participants build communication skills and complete applications and resumes.
Founded in 1984, Oliver Scholars offers various support services for Black and Latino/a students from underserved communities in New York City. Participants must be nominated, and approximately 100 students receive admission into the program each year.
Scholars can attend weekend classes and summer programs, college readiness workshops, and college and career counseling sessions. Mentors provide academic support, practical training, and leadership and community service opportunities.
In an effort to ensure the U.S. has a skilled workforce, SkillsUSA has created a framework focused on three essential components: personal skills, workplace skills, and technical skills grounded in academics. With chartered associations in 50 states and three territories, participants can look for a local chapter near them.
Additionally, SkillsUSA offers Student2Student mentoring, which pairs a middle school student with a high school or college mentor. In these relationships, both the mentor and the mentee gain invaluable skills that can be used in the professional world.
TeamMates Mentoring inspires youth by fostering strong relationships between mentors and their students. Serving more than 180 school districts across five states, the program helped almost 11,000 students find quality mentors during the 2019-2020 school year alone.
The school-based program focuses on creating unique connections between mentors and mentees in an effort to help students reach their maximum potential. Matches meet once a week at the student's school and typically engage in activities such as playing games, doing crafts, playing sports, or just talking.
Frequently Asked Questions About High School Mentorship Programs
High school mentors work with students to build a strong, trusting relationship where students feel at ease discussing personal and academic challenges. Mentors help mentees set goals and make positive changes.
Mentors are equipped with techniques and strategies that can help make the experience as valuable as possible. Commonly used techniques include active listening, mind mapping, force field analysis, and appreciative inquiry.
While traditional high school mentoring pairs students with an older mentor (usually college-aged or above), peer mentoring matches people who are around the same age or at the same stage in their lives. Both types of mentoring help foster quality relationships and can help students refine their academic and social skills.
The route to becoming a high school mentor largely depends on the organization you choose to volunteer through. Some programs require volunteers to submit applications showing relevant experience, while others allow anyone who is interested. Once accepted into a mentoring program, volunteers typically undergo a short training period.
It's crucial for high school mentors to have skills that are valuable to their mentees. Aside from career-specific skills, mentors should be active listeners who can display empathy and understanding. They should also be good communicators who can think critically and solve problems creatively.
Successful high school mentor programs facilitate personal growth through quality relationship building. Evidence-based programs that allow for flexibility while still maintaining a level of structure are often the most effective. Programs should have clearly defined steps that can help mentees reach their goals.
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