MENTOR Vermont announces recipients of the 2020-2021 Vermont Mentoring Grants

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Tue, 01/12/2021 - 12:30pm -- Denise Sortor

MENTOR Vermont is excited to announce the recipients of the 2020-2021 Vermont Mentoring Grants, which provide funding for youth mentoring programs throughout the state. This year, MENTOR Vermont awarded 24 grants, totaling $347,850, which will support more than 100 new and existing program sites, and nearly 1,500 adult-to-youth mentor pairs in communities across Vermont.

“Because of the isolation and stress youth are currently experiencing, mentoring matters more than ever,” said Chad Butt, executive director of MENTOR Vermont. “We are grateful for everything that mentors and mentoring program staff are doing right now to support youth and families in their local communities. MENTOR Vermont’s primary goal with this grant round is to ensure mentoring programs have the support and resources they need to adapt to the evolving needs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Vermont Mentoring Grants have traditionally been made possible through support from the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the Vermont Department for Children and Families. This year’s grants also include funding from the Vermont Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. With social distancing orders affecting the lives of young people and limiting their connections with caring adults, now is a critical time to maintain relationships between mentors and mentees. This year’s grants are prioritizing the work that mentoring organizations around the state are doing to continue to adapt to COVID-19 and safely provide services.

The 2020-2021 grants are funding one-to-one adult-to-youth mentoring programs serving youth in Vermont which operate at least 25 weeks of programming a year and whose matches meet at minimum one hour a week or four hours a month (depending on program model and subject to change based on the pandemic). This includes: the first-year implementation of new mentoring programs; the growth of new programs in their second year of implementation; the expansion of established programs to serve more youth or expand into underserved areas; and ongoing support for established mentoring programs that meet best practices.

All 2020-2021 grantees have committed to participating in the Vermont K-12 Mentoring Initiative by collaborating with MENTOR Vermont and other programs in their region to ensure that the youth they serve have the opportunity to continue meeting with their mentors through high school graduation. Programs that serve middle and high school mentees will commit to providing support and resources to youth and their mentors to help them explore post-secondary and career opportunities, and track their mentees’ high school graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates.

Additionally, grantees will demonstrate they are meeting best practices through the Quality Mentoring System (a program assessment system developed by MENTOR Vermont and MENTOR National), and commit to tracking and evaluating their program data through a Results-Based Accountability (RBA) process.

Through the 2020-2021 Vermont Mentoring Grants, MENTOR Vermont has awarded 24 grants to agencies, schools and districts/supervisory unions, and independent non-profits throughout the state, including:

Statewide: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Vermont; The DREAM Program; and Everybody Wins! Vermont.

Multiple Counties: The Collaborative (Bennington, Windham, and Windsor Counties); Franklin County Caring Communities (Franklin and Grand Isle Counties); New Circle Mentoring Program/Safer Society Foundation (Addison and Rutland Counties); Spectrum Mentoring/Spectrum Youth and Family Services (Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties); and Migrant Youth Mentoring/University of Vermont Extension (primarily northern and western Vermont).

Addison County: Mt. Abraham Unified School District.

Bennington County: Mentoring at UCS/United Counseling Service.

Caledonia County: See Statewide section above.

Chittenden County: Connecting Youth Mentoring/Champlain Valley School District; Maker Mentor Program/Generator; King Street Center’s Junior Senior Buddies; Milton Mentors/Milton Community Youth Coalition; SB Mentoring/South Burlington School District; and Crossroads: Where Cultures Meet/U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (Vermont).

Essex County: See Multiple Counties section above.

Franklin County: See Multiple Counties section above.

Grand Isle County: Grand Isle County Mentoring.

Lamoille County: No agencies applied.

Orange County: The Mentoring Project of the Upper Valley.

Orleans County: See Statewide and Multiple Counties sections above.

Rutland County: The Mentor Connector.

Washington County: Cabot Mentoring; Twinfield Together Mentoring Program; and Girls/Boyz First Mentoring.

Windham: See Multiple Counties sections above.

Windsor: Empower Up!/Windsor Central Supervisory Union; and Windsor County Mentors.

For more information about the Vermont Mentoring Grants and this year’s award recipients, please visit: www.mentorvt.org/vermont-mentoring-grants.

About Mentoring during COVID-19: According to the “Mentoring Effect,” a study released in 2014 by MENTOR National, one in three youth in Vermont will enter adulthood without having a formal or informal mentoring relationship with a caring adult. Given the social isolation and trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, mentoring is more important now than ever. Mentoring programs in Vermont have implemented creative ways for matches to continue meeting remotely from writing “pen pal” letters to each other to video chatting and virtual activities. As public health guidelines allow, some mentoring programs have also been able to offer the option for matches to meet in person again while meeting physical distancing guidelines. The majority of mentoring programs have also taken on new responsibilities to support mentees’ families during the crisis, including assisting with food and internet access, providing COVID-19 information in languages other than English, distributing masks, and helping to support mentees’ virtual education. For more information about MENTOR Vermont’s response to COVID-19, visit www.mentorvt.org/COVID-19.

About MENTOR Vermont: MENTOR Vermont supports 140 adult-to-youth mentoring program sites that serve 2,300 mentor pairs throughout the state. In addition to managing the Vermont Mentoring Grants, this past year, MENTOR Vermont and DCF also received a $1.25 million, three-year federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to support the expansion of mentoring programs in rural communities hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. MENTOR Vermont also provides technical support to mentoring 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 like the Vermont Mentoring Symposium and the annual Vermont Mentoring Month campaign each January. For more information about mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mentorvt.org.