Oct 12, 2011 • By

Mentoring matters

For the last twelve years, the General Mills Foundation has hosted monthly town hall meetings in the Hawthorne Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, where concerned and active members of the community share concerns ideas to make one of the city’s highest risk neighborhoods safer and more successful. A recent topic we covered was mentoring, featuring a panel of local non-profits.

When the panelist representing Big Brother Big Sisters shared her experience, I was astounded by the statistics she presented.

83 percent of Twin Cities “Bigs” mentored youth – of which 82 percent qualify for free/reduced lunch, a common indicator of risk/need – matriculate to college.

Really?

Then another one:

80 percent of those same youth received some kind of scholarship assistance through the “Bigs” mentoring program.

Come again?

And another:

92 percent of those receiving scholarship assistance through “Bigs” mentoring programs stay on track to graduate college.

The tenor and tone of discussion turned decidedly deliberate. There was renewed urgency around the value of coupling caring adults with high-risk youth.

One of our mentoring panelists shared later that same morning to equally profound effect that, “No significant learning occurs outside of a significant relationship.”

It’s a balance that, in addition to Big Brothers and Big Sisters, other local non-profit leaders have faced, weighing the valuable youth-enrichment services they provide against the ever-present need for ROI. These non-profit leaders prioritize efforts in their already-lean budgets to produce just the right level of ‘return’ on their program investments, without compromising their steadfast commitment to providing personalized, relationship-based youth development services.

How does your organization balance high-touch services with ROI measurement?

Editor’s note: Here’s a video from KARE-TV in Minneapolis, which features one of our employees and his experience as a Big Brother.