Waterbury, VT—MENTOR Vermont will convene the 2019 Vermont Mentoring Symposium at the Waterbury State Office Complex on Thursday, May 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This day-long conference is the only professional development and networking opportunity of its kind focused on youth mentoring in Vermont, and will bring together more than 50 youth mentoring program staff, board members, and supporters from across the state for a day of networking and professional development. Registration is $35 per person, and people can register by visiting www.mentorvt.org.
This year, with support from Community Bank, N.A., the Symposium will feature a keynote address from Paul Suk-Hyun Yoon, Senior Advisor for Strategic Diversity Assessment and Research at the University of Vermont. The theme for this year’s event is “Empowering Young People Through a Strengths-Based Approach.”
“A mentor’s most important role is to see the potential, strengths and abilities within their mentees–often before the mentees see those qualities themselves,” said Susie Merrick, healthy schools coordinator in the South Burlington School District, and a member of the Symposium planning team. “The workshops intentionally take on three topics that substantially impact young people today: race, gender and mental health. Those of us involved in mentoring recognize that to truly empower young people, we must first do the hard work of addressing and dismantling the barriers that stand in the way of that empowerment, including barriers within ourselves.”
Specific workshops will include: “A Dialogue about Race and Equity for Mentoring Coordinators” (facilitated by Michael Hill, Jr., student assistant program counselor for Burlington High School and adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Vermont), “LGBTQ+ Best Practices Training” (facilitated by Skylar Wolfe, director of safeSpace anti-violence program, and Taylor Small, director of health & wellness program, from the Pride Center of Vermont), and “Youth Mental Health” (facilitated by Sean Perry, co-founder and president of We R H.O.P.E., Inc.). At the conclusion of the day, there will be a working session for mentoring programs that serve youth 12 and up on a guidebook MENTOR Vermont is helping to develop for mentors on how mentors can better support mentees with thinking about and exploring their options for after high school (facilitated by Kathi Terami, executive director of Careers CLiC, and Chad Butt, executive director of MENTOR Vermont).
Support for the workshops has been made possible by The Alchemist Foundation, Larkin Hospitality, and VSAC (Vermont Student Assistance Corporation).
The event will also include a lunch and networking hour, and peer-facilitated group discussions for mentoring programs in specific regions of the state. The Symposium is also sponsored by Fairfield Inn & Suites (Waterbury-Stowe), Langrock Sperry & Wool, LLP, Local Muscle Movers, and National Life Group.
The Vermont Mentoring Symposium is planned and organized by MENTOR Vermont and members of its Program Leadership Council, an advisory group comprised of elected representatives from mentoring programs across the state that advises and assists the organization with its various youth mentoring initiatives.
According to the “Mentoring Effect,” a study released in 2014 by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, one in three youth in Vermont will enter adulthood without having a formal or informal mentoring relationship with a caring adult. National studies by MENTOR and Big Brothers Big Sisters demonstrate that youth with mentors are less likely to engage in risky behavior with drugs and alcohol, and they are more likely to develop positive relationships with peers and adults and pursue college and other post-secondary opportunities. Based on the 2018 Vermont Mentoring Surveys, nearly 72 percent of middle and high school youth supported by mentoring programs in Vermont feel like they matter to people in their community, and more than 88 percent of mentors play a direct role in their mentee’s education.
MENTOR Vermont (formerly known as Mobius) supports 140 adult-to-youth mentoring program sites that serve 2,300 mentor pairs throughout the state. The organization awards more than $300,000 to youth mentoring agencies annually through the Vermont Mentoring Grants, which are made possible by support from the A.D. Henderson Foundation, the Vermont Department for Children and Families, and the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children. Additionally, MENTOR Vermont offers technical support to program staff, maintains an online program directory and referral system for volunteers, manages a quality-based program management database, raises public awareness of mentoring, works with programs to ensure they are meeting best practices, and leads statewide mentoring initiatives. For more information about mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mentorvt.org.