Guest post by Nina Zolt, co-founder, Cricket Media
Editor’s Note: January is National Mentoring Month! To celebrate, we’ve partnered with Cricket Media to share stories about the positive impact mentoring — especially eMentoring — can have on young people’s lives.
Think back to your own childhood. What made you the person you are today? What shaped your thoughts about yourself, your career options, and your choices? Most of us can point to at least one positive, caring adult — a mentor — who made a meaningful difference in our personal, academic, and professional lives.
Research confirms the benefits of mentoring, particularly for young people in low-income communities. At-risk youth who are mentored have more positive attitudes about school and a 55% greater likelihood of enrolling in college. And kids aren’t the only ones who benefit. According to MENTOR, the national mentoring partnership, “Mentoring relationships are a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Many mentors say the rewards they gain are as substantial as those for their mentees.”
If mentoring is so great, why do 1 in 3 young people grow up without such a relationship? With today’s busy schedules, it’s hard for kids and adults to meet face-to-face. But that’s where eMentoring saves the day! By connecting through a secure, digital platform, volunteers can mentor young people from any place, any time.
For example, Cricket Media, a global educational company that connects people and ideas using technology and high-quality content, offers a flexible, safe eMentoring opportunity. Its CricketTogether program pairs screened volunteers with grade 3-5 students in participating classrooms from under-resourced communities.
While most mentoring programs are designed for middle school and up, CricketTogether focuses on elementary school students, whose identities, ambitions, and career aspirations are still forming. Through 1:1 exchanges with their pen pals, students engage in meaningful experiences that deepen their content knowledge and develop key 21st-century skills, such as communication, collaboration, and critical and creative thinking.
Throughout National Mentoring Month, we’ll share stories from CricketTogether’s community of teachers, mentors, and students. Dr. Gail Brady, principal of a school in a low-income community, will explain how eMentoring helps her district achieve their goal of connecting students with the real world. Luci, a 5th-grade teacher, will describe how eMentoring transformed reluctant readers into regular readers. And Kevin Manzel, an eMentor, will share what hooked him the moment he received his first student letter.
Check back every following Monday in January on this blog to read a mentor, student, or teacher story. And if you feel inspired and are ready to become an eMentor yourself, check out CricketTogether or these mentoring volunteer opportunities to learn how you or your company can get involved.
About the author: Nina Zolt’s passion is helping young people maximize their potential, especially those in low-income environments. After creating the 2012 Codie-award-winning nonprofit program, In2Books, she co-founded Cricket Media, a mission-based company, which fuels its safe, collaborative learning platforms with content from its award-winning magazines, including ASK®, SPIDER®, CRICKET™, and FACES™.
Basil helps nonprofits and volunteers engage better with one another by posting impactful tips and sharing stories on VolunteerMatch.org, Engaging Volunteers, GoodCauses Newsletter, and VolunteerMatch’s social media platforms.