Mentorship as Equitable Investment

Alternative breakers know the power of investment:

  • When we invest in strong site leader training, students feel confident to facilitate powerful experiences for their peers.
  • When we invest in quality education, orientation, and training for our trips, participants and communities reap the benefits of effective and efficient volunteers.
  • When we invest in community, our orientation to the world shifts and social change becomes more visible.

Alternative breakers also know our world is, unfortunately, organized into systems and structures that prevent equal investment in people. Investment (individually or institutionally) is not always fair. Access to mentors, wise and trusted teachers or counselors, outside of direct family is a privilege not granted to all. Establishing mentorship is a rare and valuable feat.

At Break Away HQ, we discovered, only two of our five current staff had a “traditional” mentor before beginning their work here. We decided to make mentoring relationships with reciprocal investment an organizational priority. Here’s the idea we came up with:

We recently established an internal mentorship program - matching current and former staff as mentor/mentee pairs. We asked a few former staff to participate and received generous and positive responses.

The “program” is structured in a way that places the responsibility not solely on the mentors to bestow their knowledge upon mentees - but rather places the onus on current staff to be prepared with specific questions, topics, and challenges for their mentors. The new relationship is approached with intention, as well as the desire to get to know each other - rooted in the common ground of love for the same organization.

This idea is still new, but so far, it seems to be working for us.  The dynamic seems equitable: current staff are intentionally thinking of topics and taking responsibility for asking specific questions of the mentors.  Mentors bestow their sage advice, build new relationships with current staff, and freshen up their investment to Break Away.

Sound like something you could use? We think so, too. How is your program involving alumni, staff, faculty, etc. in mutually beneficial, accessible, mentorships with current students?

This entry was posted in General.