Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education

Why Mentoring Youth is Good for Business and Education

By Rich Greif, Director of Marketing & Partnerships and Zeeba Khalili, School Partnership Associate, Mass Mentoring Partnership

Massachusetts’ future depends on today’s youth developing the 21st century academic, professional, and interpersonal skills critical to success in our evolving economy. Yet we are still faced with tremendous challenges in meeting this need.  During the 2010-2011 school year, an average of 44 students dropped out of high school every day.  Additionally, only 40% of low-income students are proficient in math and only 50% of low-income students are proficient in reading. Schools recognize that many students need more than just academic support to make it through high school successfully. Too many students have no significant adult involved in their education for a number of reasons. These students often move through the school system without having anyone to provide encouragement, support or validation as to how much value education adds to their lives.

To address this gap, schools across the state are increasingly turning to structured one-on-one mentoring with caring adults as a way to provide both academic and social and emotional support to students.   Today, nearly two-thirds of youth-mentor meetings take place at a site such as school or community center according to the Mass Mentoring Counts 2010 report.  It is an effective tool to keep students engaged in school and connected to their academic performance, and has been shown to reduce truancy. Mentoring can improve students’ confidence in their scholastic abilities, their overall academic performance, and the quality of their class work. Program evaluations have found that youth in mentoring relationships present better attitudes and behaviors at school and are more likely to attend college than their counterparts.

As the demand for mentoring relationships in schools grows, it creates a unique opportunity for companies to partner with local schools through mentoring programs. This not only improves outcomes for students, but also enhances the ability for companies to recruit and retain talented employees. Studies have found that 87% of employees feel greater loyalty to socially engaged employers and 75% of executives believe that a corporate volunteer program significantly impacts a company’s ability to recruit and retain talented employees, enhancing the company’s image as an “employer of choice.”

Companies such as MassMutual have a strong belief in corporate responsibility and community involvement, and acknowledge that by working with mentoring programs, they can impact education in their community. MassMutual came to Mass Mentoring Partnership in 2010 for assistance in developing a formal mentoring program with technical high schools in Springfield. With the assistance of Mass Mentoring Partnership, MassMutual partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County to develop a Career Pathways Program in two high schools in Springfield.

Career Pathways is a site-based mentoring program at MassMutual’s Springfield headquarters. Recommended 10th grade students from Roger Putnam Vocational Technical High School and the Springfield High School of Science & Technology are matched with MassMutual employees until their high school graduations. Students meet with their MassMutual mentors weekly and take part in a Career Pathways curriculum focused on preparing the students for careers in financial and technology fields. By working directly with the youth in their community, MassMutual continues to help lead Springfield’s students to academic success and bright futures beyond high school.

By mentoring youth in local communities, companies can not only ensure a better future for our youth, but for their workforce and ability to compete in today’s economic environment. To learn how your business can get involved, visit www.massmentors.org.

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Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education