Our Refugee Youth Mentoring Program is designed to support civic and social engagement, as well as academic and vocational achievement of refugee youth clients ages 15-24 in Maryland and Virginia. This program is geared to engage refugee youth in meaningful career exploration, career planning, guidance and job training services, as well development of social emotional and skills to identify, obtain, and sustain employment. The goal of the mentorship is to allow the youth to have a mentor that can help navigate US systems, promote civic engagement and leadership opportunities, and provide guidance with various questions and ideas as they begin thinking about future careers or education. Mentors play an integral role in showing mentees the vast array of opportunities that may be available to them in the US, as well as supporting and empowering them to explore these opportunities. Mentors are coaches, sounding boards, friends, guides, supporters, teachers and role models - all rolled into one!
Since Covid-19, our youth mentoring programs have “gone virtual” so volunteers can meet and provide support to their youth mentees virtually. Additionally, since the start of summer 2020, we have established an expanded training and support model that includes mentor onboarding, peer discussions, skills-based workshops and modules, programming, and other learning opportunities available for mentors and mentees, including an inventory of resource materials.
Duties of volunteer mentors vary based on the goals and interests of the youth but tend to focus on exploring career and educational opportunities, identifying career pathways, assisting with the job search and application process (resumé, cover letter, application, interview), and setting short and long term goals. Mentors also assist in critical areas such as English practice, driving support, advanced communication for navigating US society, and basic financial literacy (budgeting, establishing credit, etc.).
Volunteers are part of the LSSNCA Youth Mentoring Community where there are opportunities for monthly training and development meetings, as well as outside presentations in relevant areas of interest to youth clients. The duration of the mentoring relationship is typically one year. The mentor is also expected to participate in regular calls and meetings with the mentor program coordinator (1-2 hours per month), and these meetings (typically by phone or other virtual platforms), are part of the volunteer commitment. There are regular opportunities to network and establish friendships with fellow youth mentors as well as refugee youth clients.