CASES is pleased to announce that this Summer we will be launching a new Trustee-led mentoring initiative targeting young people enrolled in our College Success Program.
In June, CASES will initiate a career-focused mentoring services pairing formerly justice-involved young people in our college services with early-career professionals working at companies including Yahoo, Fly Cleaners (a laundry startup), The New Yorker, and Pave Academy (a Red Hook charter school). Planning for the initiative began last winter and was led by CASES Trustee Kevin Fields, a Business Development Manager at Google, and staff in CASES’ Intellectual and Career Development Unit. Mr. Fields joined the CASES Board in 2014 and has previously worked with a number of mentoring projects in Chicago and New York City, including a small mentoring project he piloted for middle school-age youth residing in the Bronx.
The new mentoring initiative targets young people engaged in CASES’ college services and who are at least one year into their collegiate studies. Participants will be matched with an early-career professional from an industry that aligns with their employment interests. Over the course of a year, mentors and mentees will meet twice a month (once individually and once as a group). These sessions will primarily focus on career exploration and planning, with time also allocated to recreational activities that foster bonding and cultural enrichment. Mentors will also play an important role in connecting mentees to relevant work experience opportunities and helping them grow their professional networks.
“The mentor program is designed to rally behind young people that have made a decision to change the trajectory of their lives for the better,” Mr. Fields explained. “Starting college or entering the workforce can be very challenging when you have no reference point or guidance. Mentors play a critical role by helping navigate this process and in providing consistent encouragement to mentees to fulfill their potential.”
Thus far, with Mr. Fields’ support, CASES has recruited 11 mentors who are currently undergoing orientation and training. The proliferation of youth mentoring programs in recent years is testament to the vast and profound benefits that young people derive when they engage in supportive relationships with non-parental adults. Studies show that when delivered effectively, high-risk youth stand to gain the most from mentoring programs, experiencing significant improvements in recidivism, school attendance, peer and family relationships, and adult productivity.
CASES expects the first cohort of mentors and mentees to work together for a year, with a total of 10 mentees served. In the future, we plan to increase the number of participants served through this mentoring model and to potentially expand the service to justice-involved young people engaged in other CASES’ youth programs.