Maine Mentoring Partnership, Inc. (MMP)

(ODEP-Funded Local Practices)

Organization Contact Information / Organizational Profile / Participants Served & Characteristics / Program Structure/Design / Innovative Practices / Systems Change / Project Plans and Outcomes

Organization Contact Information

Name of Organization Maine Mentoring Partnership, Inc. (MMP)
Director of Organization Debbie Bechard
Grantee Project Name Transition Mentoring Program for Maine Youth
Contact Debbie Bechard
Contact Title Program Coordinator
Address 45 Commerce Drive, Suite 9, Augusta, Maine 04330
Phone Number (207) 620-7180, ext. 212
Email Address dbechard@jmg.org
Website Address http://www.jmg.org/programs/mmp/
   

Organizational Profile

 

Maine Mentoring Partnership (MMP) was established in 2001 as an initiative of Maine Children’s Cabinet. It is a statewide partnership of government, mentoring program providers, and supporters from both the public and private sectors. It is now a supporting organization of Jobs for Maine’s Graduates Inc. (www.jmg.org).

MMP is one of a number of statewide or regional mentoring partnerships that are part of MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, a national mentoring network. MENTOR promotes best practices in mentoring, provides advocacy for mentoring, and provides its partners with field-tested solutions to some of the mentoring movement’s greatest challenges.

The primary role of MMP is to increase the number of formal mentoring relationships available to Maine’s children and youth. It is an intermediary organization that directly and indirectly supports all types of youth mentoring efforts operating in Maine. It focuses on six key result areas:

  • Resource development and distribution
  • Public awareness
  • Mentor recruitment and referral
  • Technical assistance and training
  • Public policy
  • Data collection and tracking
   

Program Structure/Design

 

MMP was one of 6 organizations to receive funding in 2003 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) for its Intermediary Grants for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities initiative. The purpose of these demonstration projects was to build the capacity of very small faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) to provide effective mentoring services to young people with disabilities through the use of intermediary organizations. FBCOS sub-award recipients had to meet the following criteria:

  1. Have social services as a major part of their mission;
  2. Be headquartered in the local community to which they provided services;
  3. Have a total annual operated budget of $300,000 or less, or
  4. Have 6 or fewer full-time equivalent employees.

With the 2003 funding from ODEP, MMP expanded and enhanced mentoring to youth with disabilities ages 16-24. These mentoring services were focused on helping youth with disabilities learn more about the world of work and to improve their ability to transition into post-secondary education and employment. The six specific goals for the Transition Mentoring Program for Maine Youth project were:

  1. Thirty-five (for a total of 105) attendees will participate in each of three region conferences and have initial resources for implementation or expansion of mentoring programs for youth with disabilities.
  2. Fifty existing mentoring providers and faith-based organizations will apply for sub-grantee funds through the intermediary RFP process.
  3. A total of 200 youth with disabilities will be matched in traditional mentoring or E-mentoring relationships with a screened, training caring mentor.
  4. After 12 months of mentoring, each youth mentored will have completed a one and five-year written life goals plan. The goals plans will be person-centered and will include some or all of the following: placement and retention of employment, completion of educational certification, graduation, skills attainment, enrollment in post-secondary education, etc.
  5. There will be a 300 percent increase in the number of faith-based and community-based organizations capable of providing quality mentoring services endorsed by MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership (traditional or e-mentoring) to young people ages 16-24 with disabilities and capable of effectively sustaining mentoring programs for youth through a variety of funding sources.
  6. Individual mentor matches will be tracked using nationally accepted evaluation tools published by MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership and National Mentoring Center. Evaluation tools (surveys) will be administered to mentors, mentees, case managers, mentoring program coordinators, parents/guardians of mentees, and others as appropriate.

Types of mentoring included 1:1 (adult to youth and peer mentoring), small group mentoring, and team mentoring. Mentoring took place in a variety of settings including schools, One Stop Centers, faith-based teen center, libraries, college campuses, workplaces, businesses, at mentor’s homes, museums, etc. Adult mentors (mostly adults without disabilities) were recruited from the community at large, local businesses, and schools. Peer mentors (youth with disabilities) were recruited mostly from schools.

   

Innovative Practices

Intermediary Activities

South Coast Business Employment Corporation (SCBEC) and its sub-awardees formed a number of partnerships with schools, public agencies, and other non-profit organizations through which they leveraged services and resources, often in the form of assistance with recruitment and the providing of other services to youth participants. Among the nine school partners were the Coos Bay School District, the North Bend School District, Coquille School District, and the Brandon School District. Other partners included the Youth Transition Programs, Coquille Ministerial Association, Disability Services Advisory Council, Coos and Curry County Juvenile Justice, the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, KCBY TV, and the World Newspaper.

Within the first year of the project, SCBEC recruited and entered into contracts with organizations to recruit mentors and match them with youth with disabilities. The five participating organizations were the Coquille Praise Center, the Bridges Advocacy, South Coast Community Resource Center – Curry (Curry Prevention Services – Curry), South Coast Community Resource Center – Coos Bay (Curry Prevention Services - Coos Bay), and the South Coast Independent Living Services. All of the organizations, except Curry Prevention Services – Coos Bay, continued throughout the three years of the project. Curry Prevention Services – Coos Bay participated in the first two years during which it provided technical assistance to the other organizations.

Throughout the project, SCBEC provided support, technical assistance, and a small amount of funding to each of the five organizations. Perhaps its biggest contributions were around bringing the five organizations together to operate under a common identity and to provide assistance with outreach and marketing.

One of the early challenges that the project faced was a lack of trust among the mentoring organizations. They viewed each other as competitors rather than collaborators. SCBEC in its intermediary role was proactive in bringing the organizations together and overcoming their initial mistrust. In September of 2004, SCBEC procured training services from Easter Seals of Portland for the coordinators from the mentor organizations, along with other SCBEC staff. Initially the training was around marketing individuals with disabilities to employers. However, the training was redirected to addressing the needs of the group and assisting them to work through the issues that were preventing these organizations from working together. A follow-up training session was held later in 2004.

Under the guidance of the Easter Seals trainer, the mentor organizations worked together to devise a shared identity for the project. The result was the development of the YES (Youth Empowerment Solutions) logo. Each of the participating organizations changed their letterheads and brochures to reflect this new identify.

Under the leadership of SCBEC, the mentoring organizations launched an extensive public outreach effort. The common identity and logo (YES) was used for promotional and outreach materials. They purchased buttons that were given to mentors and mentees. As an example, one of the buttons said, “YES, I love to mentor, ask me why.” Disseminated materials included brochures, bookmarks, mentor training materials, and mentee and mentor applications.

Several of the local newspapers continually ran public service announcements about the project. There were newspaper articles about the program in at least two local papers, the World and the Curry Pilot. The World Newspaper did a front page article featuring a YES mentee and mentor. The local TV station, KCBY, came to all of the Coos celebrations and provided extensive coverage of the events. The grantees also used letters to the editors to disseminate information and to thank community leaders who helped with the project. A television commercial was broadcast in both Coos and Curry Counties. In Curry County the ad ran for three months and in Coos County it ran for six months. This commercial reached thousands of Coos and Curry residents.

One effective strategy was developing “champions” for the mentoring programs. Among these champions were public officials. Four local mayors agreed to participate. The mayors in the region coordinated recognition of mentoring efforts by passing proclamations in support of National Disability Mentoring Day. Community leaders participated in the filming of a public service announcement and in local newspaper advertisements.

The YES outreach campaign created a demand for mentoring in both counties beyond the targeted group of youth with disabilities. For example, the local Self Sufficiency Program, after hearing of the program, expressed interested in having mentors to assist adults transitioning to employment. This demand spread to other populations, such as younger youth, older youth with disabilities, and teen parents. As a result, YES expanded its goal to mentoring all vulnerable youth populations.

Throughout the project, SCBEC brought the mentor organizations together for training and for sharing of information and ideas through monthly mentor-coordinator-staff meetings. SCBEC used the specific strengths of its sub awardees to cross train all of the sites and insure uniform mentoring standards. One of the organizations had a long history of providing mentoring services. This organization is linked with the Oregon statewide mentoring efforts and took the lead in developing mentor/mentee training materials and training all sites. Other organizations had strong relationships with the educational system and have provided leadership in building the capacity of the sites to work with schools.

The five organizations worked together in recruiting volunteers to serve as mentors. The unified marketing strategy allowed potential mentors to enter at any location. The organizations agreed to divide the region geographically and refer potential mentees or mentors among the organizations based on both geography and the organization’s strengths. Over the life of this project, 150 mentees, ages 16 – 24, were matched with mentors. At the end of the project, each of the organizations committed to continuing their mentoring activities and had developed plans for sustaining their efforts.


 

Career Preparation and Work-Based Experiences

One of the overall goals of the project was that after 12 months of mentoring each youth mentored would have completed a one- and five-year written life goals plan. The goals plans were to be person-centered and include some or all of the following: placement in and retention of employment, completion of educational certification, graduation, skills attainment, enrollment in post-secondary education, etc. The project succeeded in meeting this goal through one-to-one and group mentoring in the following ways within the sub-awardees’ programs:

  1. Career/life portfolios,
  2. Dream collages,
  3. "Book club" style reading of selected books such as Sean Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and
  4. Group and one on one discussions about Successes, Opportunities, and Worries (S.N.O.W. charts).

One of the sub-awardees, RVACOT received a $3,000 grant for the 2006-2007 school year to sponsor a “Mission Transition” for youth ages 16-21. Mission Transition offered opportunities for youth to meet with employers, job development agencies, representatives from postsecondary institutions and to learn about Social Security, resume writing, portfolio development, workplace accommodations, and developing soft skills.

Mentees from Ethel Tree of Life had the opportunity to participate in a unique summer program. This program blended career aspirations and skills development with fun through activities such as camping trips, theme park visits, hikes, a nutrition program, participation in food service at a festival, and understanding the “workings” of an apple orchard.


Youth Development and Leadership Opportunities

Youth Outreach Ministries is a faith-based organization that operates His Place and an after school drop-in teen center. Mentoring was added to their programming through a contract with Big Brothers/Big Sisters for recruitment, screening, matching, and training of both adult mentors and youth mentees. Mentors and mentees met at as a group every Thursday evening where they would break into pairs for in-depth discussions on specific future plans, current events, and other topics. Mentees were given the opportunity to participate in the full range of activities at the teen center.

Book club style discussion groups also provided a successful format for the mentors and mentees. Adult mentors took turns presenting outlines of each chapter followed by group and one-on-one discussions. Some of the books discussed included “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” and “A Purpose-Driven Life”

Two other sub-awardees, Region V Advisory Council on Transition (RVACOT) and Downeast Regional Transition Board (DRTB) created youth-inspired and youth-driven programs that provided a three-tier approach to mentoring. Adults were recruited to serve as “program anchors” in each of the participating high schools within the program service area and serve as small group mentors to youth with disabilities within the school. These youth formed the center tier of the program as both mentees and fully trained peer mentors to other youth with disabilities ages 16-24.

For the school year 2006-07, RVACOT was able to include its mentoring activities during the school day for service learning credit or have mentoring written into the youth’s IEP (Individual Education Program). This was done to encourage youth participation.

In addition, six youth from the RVACOT program joined the statewide board of the Maine Youth Council on Transition. As members of this Council, they were provided with opportunities to participate in decisions on policy and programs for youth in the 2006-2007 school year.

DRTB implemented the NCWD/Youth’s 411 on Disclosure Disability Workbook as an 8-week, ongoing curriculum of the mentoring program. Coordinators incorporated interactive games and received great reviews from youth participants. The curriculum was further refined at a large group gathering in early September 2006 and plans were to present it through workshops to regional high schools and community colleges across Maine.

   

Systems Change

Capacity

MMP and its partner organization Jobs for Maine’s Graduates worked with the state legislature to secure continued funding for the program. As a result Maine LD-979 was enacted to provide $25,000 to expand and support existing mentoring programs in Maine. At the sub-awardees level, there were many in-kind donations totaling several thousand dollars. These in-kind donations included: office space, mentor/mentee meeting space, community activity support, office equipment and supplies, presenters, travel reimbursement, etc.

As a result of this project, the state of Maine and Maine Mentoring Partnership have gained four new programs providing mentoring to youth with disabilities. Perhaps even more significant, but of intrinsic value, is the expertise that has been gained in providing mentoring services to youth with disabilities.

MMP revised its statewide mentoring survey which is distributed every two years to include for the first time information regarding persons with disabilities. The 2004 survey was revised to include questions covering:

  • Whether persons with disabilities are targeted in mentor/mentee recruitment
  • Whether disability/transition issues are addressed by the program
  • Number of mentees with disabilities served
  • Whether disability is one of the qualities considered in the matching process

At the subawadee level, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed with the three One Stop centers in the RVACOT service area in order for the One Stops to promote and financially support at least one alternative education program's involvement in their program. In Year 3 of the grant, RVACOT signed MOUs for the 2006-07 school year with WIA providers to support utilization of mentoring in program components in all five One-Stop sites in the RVACOT service area.

Youth Outreach Ministries set a precedent in Maine by contracting with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Androscoggin & Oxford Counties for services related to recruiting, screening and training of mentors and mentees. Nationally, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America programs typically only provide services to youth age 14 and under. As a result of this grant, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Androscoggin & Oxford received approval from the national office to provide mentoring for persons ages 16-24.

MMP was also successful in raising awareness of youth with disabilities within the National Mentoring Project’s activities. In addition, MMP worked with two other states in New England (Connecticut and Rhode Island) on incorporating mentoring services to youth with disabilities in their projects.

At the intermediary level, the Transition Mentoring Program for Maine Youth did not continue as a stand-alone program of MMP’s. However, MMP continues to operate as a statewide mentoring organization through their affiliation with Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG). JMG provides organizational support, accounting, expertise in nonprofit management, board leadership, in-kind office space, and computer/office equipment.

In addition, all four subawardees continued their mentoring programs. They continue to be involved at their own local levels, with regional mentoring partnerships and at the state level. All sub-awardees also adopted policies to actively recruit youth younger than age 16 to be served in transition-mentoring relationships. The sub-awardees learned that retention of matches and the impact of mentoring relations was improved through service to younger youth who have not yet become employed, started to drive, or generally gotten involved in a number of other activities.


Project Plans and Outcomes

 

The project set a goal to match a total of 200 youth with disabilities in traditional mentoring or e-mentoring relationships with a screened, trained, and caring adult by the end of its five-year period. The project exceeded its goal far ahead of schedule. By the end of the grant period in September 2006, a total of 264 youth with disabilities ages 16 –24 received mentoring services.

Another goal of this project was to evaluate program satisfaction through the use of surveys administered to mentors, mentees, case managers, mentoring-program coordinators, parents/guardians of the mentee and others, as appropriate. MMP developed feedback forms for use with new youth age 16-24 entering the programs, existing youth age 16-24 already in mentoring relationships in the programs, adult mentors, and the parent/guardian of each youth. Because sub-awardee Youth Outreach Ministries contracted with a local Big Brothers/Big Sisters for some mentoring services, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America tool was also used in that program.

In year two, the sub-awardees distributed the feedback forms. Results on aggregate data were compiled from 54 completed feedback form responses (40 from youth, six from adult mentors, and eight from parent/guardians). In year three, MMP, through its four sub-awardees again distributed feedback forms to the groups listed above.

A report prepared by an outside organization using the survey information, concluded that “Mentoring activities influenced participants in many ways. Several areas were especially key for youth. Youth emphasized a sense of belonging and valued the social interactions and friendships that developed. Mentoring meetings provided many opportunities to interact with others and acquire new friends. The mentoring experiences provided safe opportunities for discussion of personal problems, consideration of future career, and discussions with mentors. Youth, parents, and mentors perceived the mentoring programs as highly beneficial to the youth.”

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