The role of mentors is more important than many people may realize.
When we started Practice Makes Perfect (PMP) in 2010, we made mentoring a core component because of the impact mentoring had in my own life. I was raised by a single mother on government-aid in Queens, NY. By virtue of growing up low-income, my siblings and I went to some of NYC’s most struggling public schools. Ultimately, it was a series of nonprofits and mentors that changed my life trajectory, surrounding me with people I could turn to for help and support in visualizing a future I never imagined – becoming not only the first person in my family to graduate from college, but doing so in the top 10% of my class at Cornell University.
Our model at Practice Makes Perfect is driven by my firsthand experiences. After all, the role of mentors is a vital part in helping all of our communities to thrive. For example:
- Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55% more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.
- In addition to better school attendance and a better chance of going on to higher education, mentored youth maintain better attitudes toward school.
- Mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them.
- Young adults with a mentor are:
- 55% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school
- 78% more likely to volunteer regularly
- 90% are interested in becoming a mentor
- 130% more likely to hold leadership positions
For us at Practice Makes Perfect, mentoring was just as much about building relationships as much as it was about providing youth with older, positive role models they could aspire to emulate. We believed the gap in the communities we serve was not in potential or ambition, but in opportunity and positive role models. If we could fill the void of positive role models, we could start to change the narratives about our communities.
We believed the gap in the communities we serve was not in potential or ambition, but in opportunity and positive role models. If we could fill the void of positive role models, we could start to change the narratives about our communities.
We wanted to find a way to provide students with remedial support with the main driver of the knowledge being an older student. And not just any older student, an older student that is familiar with their neighborhood – either living directly in it or attending school there. In most cases, the quality of life is similar for kids living in the same neighborhoods, though there are always exceptions.
This near-peer mentoring approach was initially viewed as radical and met with skepticism.