Frequently Asked Questions

I’M INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING AS A MENTOR…

Does Mentoring Take a Lot of Time?

Many mentoring organizations require that volunteers commit to the program for one year, usually for about an hour per week. Research demonstrates that a long-term commitment provides the most benefits to the child. That said, most mentoring programs will work with volunteers to find the most convenient time for mentor-mentee meetings. Schedule and time commitment also depends on the type of program. For example, school-based programs meet at the school, during the school day, while site- or community-based programs may meet at a community center, after school or on the weekends.‚Äč

Do I Need any Special Skills to be a Mentor?

There are no special skills required to be a good mentor.  In fact, you probably already have what it takes!  The most effective mentors are those who are patient, committed and passionate about offering extra support to a young person. Successful mentors are consistent and caring, helping their mentees problem solve, practice good communication and introduce them to new experiences and ideas.

How long does a mentoring commitment last?

Some mentoring relationships last for many years, others do not. In a formal mentoring relationship, it is always best to follow the guidelines of the mentoring program, which will have established beginning and ending dates. For example, a school-based mentor will commit to one school year (September through May). If you would like your mentoring relationship to continue after the program has officially ended, you (and your mentee and their parent/guardian) can speak with the program staff member about signing up for another year commitment.

Who needs mentors or could benefit most from having a mentor?

Simply put, mentoring benefits everyone.  Even those youth who do not face challenging circumstances can benefit from a caring adult mentor - someone who says, "I believe in you."

Will Mentoring Cost Me Money?

Depending on the specific requirements of the mentoring program, there may be fees associated with obtaining government clearances to work with children.  These clearance fees vary by program.  Aside from clearance costs, most mentoring programs require very little to no monetary commitment from a mentor. Usually gift giving is discouraged, unless it has been approved by the program coordinator or the gift can be shared with all mentees in the program (e.g., a snack or goodie bag at an end-of-year celebration). Volunteers should not feel pressured to take mentees on expensive outings or buy birthday gifts. Ask your mentoring program coordinator for creative, low-cost and fun activities to do with your mentee or check out the activity ideas listed in our Resource Library.

Does Mentoring Make a Difference?

Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee. A mentor can become a friend who can provide opportunities for gaining new skills and experiences that will help your child learn, grow and be successful. All children have the potential to succeed in life and can benefit from the demonstrated effects of mentoring, which include:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Consistent school attendance 
  • Improved academic skills
  • Access to new resources and experiences
  • Additional support for new behaviors, attitudes and ambitions
  • Increased ability to seek and keep jobs
  • Enhanced parent-child relationships

I’d like to explore mentoring options for my own child… 

As you consider whether you want a mentor for your child, you may have questions about what is involved and what your role will be. We can help you understand what mentoring is all about, what you can expect from your child’s mentor and what is expected of you as you work together to build a positive mentoring relationship.

Does Mentoring Make a Difference?

Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee. A mentor can become a friend who can provide opportunities for gaining new skills and experiences that will help your child learn, grow and be successful. All children have the potential to succeed in life and can benefit from the demonstrated effects of mentoring, which include:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Consistent school attendance 
  • Improved academic skills
  • Access to new resources and experiences
  • Additional support for new behaviors, attitudes and ambitions
  • Increased ability to seek and keep jobs
  • Enhanced parent-child relationships

Is a mentor supposed to act as another parent for my child?

A mentor’s main role is to develop a positive relationship with your child by meeting on a regular basis. Mentors are not intended to act as another parent but as an additional caring and responsible adult supporting the healthy development of your child. Perhaps you recall a teacher, coach, or another person who helped you in some way while you were growing up - that adult was being a mentor. Within a formal program there are people of various backgrounds and a wide range of skills and interests who are carefully screened, selected and trained to mentor a child.

As a parent or guardian, what will my role in the mentoring relationship be?

Support from parents or guardians is key to the mentoring relationship. Once a mentor match is confirmed, the parent/guardian plays a critical role in the success of the match. In many ways, the responsibilities of a parent/guardian are similar to that of any other activities in which the child participates. If you think about how you are involved in other activities - such as sports or an after-school club - you listen, make sure your child attends and communicate with the leaders of those programs. Encouragement and a positive attitude from the beginning will go a long way toward a successful partnership. Early communication of values, rules, time limitations or other concerns will help provide a strong foundation. As the relationship builds, it is important to talk with your child and the mentor separately about how things are going.


I’m a mentoring program interested in learning more.

What does The Mentoring Partnership have to offer?

The Mentoring Partnership:

  • helps start mentoring programs,
  • provides technical assistance to existing mentoring programs,
  • recruits volunteers to be mentors,
  • trains volunteers to be mentors and
  • brings national trends and best practices to local programs

What is the Striving for Mentoring Excellence Coaching process and how does it benefit my program?

Quality matters when it comes to mentoring and, through the dedication of programs like yours, we can all strive for excellence in mentoring within our community.

The Quality Coaching process supports programs that are dedicated to promoting quality mentoring for their mentors and mentees. Through a process of self-assessment, resource development and coaching from The Mentoring Partnerships’ expert staff, all mentoring programs have the opportunity to be designated a partner in the Striving for Mentoring Excellence network. All partners who complete the Quality Coaching process will earn a web badge to let internal audiences (volunteers, board of directors, etc.) and external audiences (donors, potential volunteers, etc.) know that your program is continually striving to deliver the best services to its constituents.

What does it cost for my program to become a partner or to receive services?

Membership in the Striving for Mentoring Excellence Network is free and, by joining, your organization will have access to a range of services and benefits including technical assistance in the development of new programs and/or the implementation of new components for existing programs; mentor recruitment services; mentor training; and training and professional development opportunities for program staff and volunteers. Additionally, your organization will be entered into our referral database system, helping potential mentors and mentees know who you are, what you do, and how to join you!

What locations within Pennsylvania does The Mentoring Partnership serve?

TMP primarily serves programs in Southwestern PA. However, we are able to support mentoring programs outside of our geographic area through web-based training and technical assistance, as well as through our online resource library.


For more specific information on mentoring, or to find a mentor for your child, please e-mail us at info@mentoringpittsburgh.org or give us a call at 412-281-2535.