Recruitment starts with reflecting on the qualities you would like in a success mentor given the target population you choose to reach. For young students, for example, you’ll want a success mentor who can connect with the student, and ideally can also help engage the parent in the school community. Mentors who are part of the school community (whether as school staff, parent volunteers, or as part of the afterschool program) are particularly ideal since it is often easier for students and families to connect with them, and they are more likely to know about ongoing school activities and resources.
District captains should take steps to create an inventory, or map, of the community partners in their schools. Often districts find out they have community partners that are making good progress with students and families to reduce chronic absenteeism, but these partners may not always be in the schools with the greatest need.
An inventory will enable districts to list the available resources, and review which schools have the largest number of students missing too much school. With this information you can consider how to distribute effective partners among the schools with the biggest absence problem. Identify the partner or partners that are making the greatest strides and find a way to expand that programming to the schools struggling with chronic absence. Organize a meeting to talk about the approaches and strategies that are having an impact, and consider how those approaches can be implemented in other schools in your district.
When you meet with a partner that is doing well you might talk about how you can help them expand to other sites by supporting new fundraising, perhaps finding new resources in the school or city budget or from foundation funding. Be careful not to remove too many resources from a school that is doing well so that the school quickly loses the progress it has achieved.
With that in mind, a district and the participating school should identify the adults who might have the desired qualities and begin to engage in outreach to spark their interest. If you already know which students will be mentees, another effective approach is to scan the school community for an adult who already has a bond with a particular mentee and then encourage the adult to consider becoming a success mentor.
If your district is interested in recruiting external success mentors, it should start by considering available partners who are already involved in mentoring and who could help take on recruitment and support. Start by looking for local affiliates of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership as well as national service organizations such as Experience Corps or City Year.
According to MENTOR, when recruiting volunteers, it’s important to realistically portray the responsibilities they will hold as a mentor, as well as the challenges they may face. It’s also important to portray the potential benefits mentoring will hold, by empowering prospective volunteers to make a difference in a different way.
Success Mentor programs can use a variety of approaches to drum up interest including distributing flyers, writing personal emails to those who are interested, and holding a panel discussion with success mentors who will share their stories of working with mentees and answer questions from potential mentors.