Representing Vermont at the 2019 Mentoring Summit

February 21, 2019 Advocacy, National Mentoring Summit

Each year at the conclusion of National Mentoring Month, MENTOR convenes the National Mentoring Summit, which brings together more than 1,000 youth mentoring practitioners, advocates, researchers, philanthropic investors, and government and civic leaders for three days of advocacy and professional development.

This year’s event continued the theme of “Building Relationships, Expanding the Movement.” In addition to opportunities to learn about the latest research, trends, and how to support youth from diverse backgrounds, the Summit also featured a plenary that focused specifically on “Youth Activism,” which can be viewed here.

MENTOR Vermont, as the state’s affiliate of MENTOR, represented the Green Mountain State in our nation’s capitol again this year, along with a wonderful group of local mentoring program leaders. Thanks to scholarship funding from the Vermont Mentoring Grants, three program leaders (Amy Spector from Milton Mentors!, Pam Quinn from Twinfield Together Mentoring, and Nancy Jones from the Mentoring Project of the Upper Valley) had the opportunity to participate in all three days of the event. They were also joined by Eliza Kuchuk from Essex CHIPS, Chris Hultquist and Bobbi Jo Stellato from the Mentor Connector, and all five program directors from the Connecting Youth program in the Champlain Valley School District (Alice Brown, Nancy Carlson, Ginny Roberts, Krista Sisson, and Rebecca Day).  Eddie Gale from the A.D. Henderson Foundation also attended the event, and partnered with MENTOR Vermont E.D. Chad Butt to help lead a workshop on utilizing the Quality Mentoring System to leverage philanthropic and government funding to support local mentoring programs in meeting best practices.

Vermont mentoring leaders met with Congressman Peter Welch to talk about the need for rural mentoring funding as a part of Capitol Hill Day.

The first day of the Summit was Capitol Hill Day, and featured meetings between nearly 500 mentoring leaders from across the country, and the offices of their local congressman and senators. MENTOR Vermont and a group of program leaders met with staff members from the offices of Senators Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch to discuss the need for mentoring funding in Vermont, and in other rural states affected by the opiate epidemic.

“What an amazing sense of being where big things happen!” said Alice Brown. “Talking face-to-face with the staffers who will make the recommendations to our reps, sharing stories that were really listened to. Even for our speck of a state, from our small programs, I got the feeling that our voices were heard.  It was fun to see democracy in action!”

Alice also noted some specific lessons she took away from her workshops.

“1. What if the goal of mentoring programs was to have measurable positive outcomes for mentors? 

  1. Thinking of the role of the mentor, not as a hero—saving a kid—-but as a coach, helping the mentee reach his full potential. This means asking great questions of the mentees and guiding them to resources to help them move toward their goals, NOT steering them in the direction we think is best, NOT telling them what to do.
  2. Thinking more about biases in relationships. Just being aware of them is 90% of the lesson.  Mentors and mentees often arrive from such different places!”

For the three program leaders who attended the event with the support of scholarship funding, the Summit was also a chance to connect with colleagues, and the larger mentoring movement.

“This being my first time attending the National Summit, everything was new for me!” said Nancy Jones. “It was wonderful to get to know the other program leaders from Vermont, most of whom I had never met before and finally, I can connect faces and fond memories with names.  In the workshops that I attended there were ample opportunities for participants to share their own stories and I gained a lot of new ideas to take home to my program.  I also learned that many of our challenges are very similar.”

“As a new mentoring coordinator, I was thrilled to receive a scholarship to attend the National Mentoring Summit,” said Amy Spector. “It was both empowering and inspiring to be around so many mentoring professionals. I came away from the Summit with lots of energy and practical learning that will benefit the Milton Mentors program.”

“I was inspired by being with people from all over the country that have a shared vision for mentoring,” said Pam Quinn. “I left with great ideas to bring back to my own community and program, and I was reminded of the importance of the work all of our programs are collectively doing to support youth in an increasingly difficult world.”

To learn more about the 2019 Mentoring Summit, and to view recordings of the plenaries and download materials from the workshops, we encourage you to visit MENTOR’s National Mentoring Summit webpage.

Save the date for the 2020 Mentoring Summit! We’re excited to travel to D.C. again next January 29-31.