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Open the Door to a Bright Future. Volunteer to Mentor Youth Today.

Before the pandemic hit, Isabel was on track to graduate early from high school. But then, she said, “The sudden shift to eLearning was difficult. Our Internet wasn’t the greatest so I would miss out on a lot of the lessons.” As she struggled to keep up with school, she cared for her mother and helped her 9-year-old sister with homework from their one-bedroom apartment. She looked for resources to help pay the family bills after her dad couldn’t work when he was sick with COVID-19. Amid all this, the aspiring first-generation college student wondered how to navigate the application process.

In response to the needs of students like Isabel, Orange County United Way (Irvine, CA) developed a new, completely virtual e-Mentoring Program to provide students with a support system as they took the next steps to continue their education. The Class of 2021 e-Mentoring Program paired students with a mentor, offered virtual educational, career and life readiness workshops, and provided a new laptop and technology kit to each student who successfully completed the program and graduated from high school. The effort had a 100% success rate, with all 285 students graduating from the program and high school on time, and 90% feeling confident about applying to or attending college. The program will serve another 200 students on track to graduate and attend college in 2022.

As students have faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic, mentors are needed more than ever. About 1 in 3 young people in America are growing up without a mentor outside their family, according to Mentor, an organization which aims to close this gap. In Orange County, 87% of the students participating in the e-Mentorship Program had never had a mentor.

Mentoring is a vital component of positive youth development, promoting academic success, engagement in extracurriculars, and connections to new opportunities. It is a proven approach in helping young people stay on track toward a bright future. With a mentor, young people less likely to skip a day of school and more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities and to hold a leadership position in a club or sports team.

As for Isabel? After being the first person to graduate two years early from her high school, she went on to attend UCLA.

Volunteer mentors are part of success stories like this in every community. Your local United Way may offer or can recommend a mentoring program in need of volunteers like you. Mentor also offers mentoring resources, including volunteer opportunities. Know of a student in need? Your local United Way can help them find a mentor, too.

Together, let’s open doors to a brighter future.

#MentoringMonth  #MentoringAmplifies #Volunteer