About Mentoring

Mentoring is a committed relationship between an adult and a youth focused on developing the character and capabilities of the young person. By definition, a mentor means a wise and trusted friend and guide. Mentoring, whether it is informal or formal, is a wonderful way for caring adults to make a positive difference in a young person's life.  Research shows that substantial benefits exist for the mentor as well - read about some of these benefits here

  • Friend
  • Listener
  • Tutor
  • Confidant
  • Coach
  • Foster Parent
  • Therapist
  • Cool Peer
  • Parole Officer
  • ATM Machine
  • Savior

Different Ways to Mentor
Mentoring experiences come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Sometimes youth are mentored informally through a natural connection between themselves and a caring adult, like a relative, a next door neighbor, a teacher or coach, or someone through their place of worship. There are also formal mentoring opportunities where there is a connection between a caring adult and a young person through an organized, mentoring-focused program.

One to One mentoring is the most often recognized mentoring relationship. This type of experience pairs one adult and one youth to form a friendship. An example is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Twin Cities.

Team Mentoring is a group of at least two adults working together to mentor a young person(es). Minnesota Inner City Outings Program offers this experience.

Group mentoring is one adult volunteer building relationships with a group of young people. This includes scouting programs.

Family mentoring can mean two different things. One definition involves the whole family in mentoring a young person. Kinship affiliates including Kinship of Greater Minneapolis and Kids 'n Kinship offer families the opportunity to mentor a young person. Another definition means there are opportunities for individuals or groups of individuals to mentor a family. 

E-mentoring allows mentors to exchange e-mails with young people via the Internet. This type of mentoring usually involves a partnership between a business and school.

Long-term commitment refers to a mentoring relationship that lasts a year or longer. This type of commitment is the most beneficial for a young person.

Short-term commitment refers to a relationship that lasts less than a year.

Where You Can Mentor


  • Engage in more social activities
  • Have more contact with youth's family or guardian
  • More effective in affecting social outcomes
  • Usually sponsored by community organization


  • Engage in more academic activities
  • Have more contact with teacher
  • More effective in affecting school outcomes
  • Usually sponsored by school


  • Engage in more academic-oriented activities
  • Have more contact with agency
  • More effective in affecting academic outcomes
  • Usually sponsored by workplace and nonprofit partner


  • Engage in more activities with a faith-based theme integrated into activities
  • Have more contact with faith leader
  • More effective in affecting social and spiritual outcomes
  • Usually sponsored by faith organization