What We Do
Affinity Mentoring strives to interrupt the cycle of poverty through mentoring relationships that improve students’ academic achievements, social skills and self-esteem.
Every child needs 5-7 adults in their life. Caring, trusted adults that they can lean on to guide them. Our mentors are trained to be one of those people on a child’s team. Through weekly mentoring sessions at school, mentors and students develop a partnership and friendship. How much difference can one-on-one time for one hour, once per week, make in the life of one child? The answer to that question is visible every week on the faces of the students, as volunteers enter into supportive and caring relationships with them.
It is in these relationships that at-risk school children are given the emotional, social, and academic support they need to succeed. The transformation may seem to start small, beginning with simple changes in attitude and behavior, yet couple this with increased attendance and academic performance, and you have one hour a week which truly changes a child’s life.
Mentoring has been proven to have a positive impact on youth. By taking the need for personal connection as seriously as we take reading, writing and arithmetic, schools all over the nation have seen:
- Better attendance – as mentored youth are less likely than their peers to skip school.
- Better attitudes toward school.
- Better chances of going onto higher education.
- Better health – as mentored students are 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking.
- Better relationships – and the results of this can be seen at home as well – as mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them.
Not only do we invest heavily in our students and our mentors, but we also approach mentoring comprehensively and collaboratively. Our staff are highly qualified, with degrees in social work and public administration, which enables us to navigate the larger system and effectively advocate for our students. We also pour time and energy into building strong relationships with the school administration and teachers, which makes us a critical partner that is routinely invited to work closely and proactively in at-risk students’ support teams. This expertise leads to greater retention rates among mentor matches and greater outcomes for youth. For example, only 3% of Affinity matches close prematurely, compared to an approximately 50% premature closure rate among mentoring programs nationally.
Matches close for a number of reasons (change in job or school, financial challenges, loss of interest, mentors becoming too busy, etc). For Affinity Mentoring, our matches that close prematurely typically only do so because the student moves away. Why? Because as Alan Schwartz said: “Mentoring doesn’t work. Quality mentoring works.” At Affinity Mentoring, we ensure that our mentors have access to a support system that can not only help them prepare for the mentoring experience but serve as a source for ongoing access to advice and counsel.
COMMUNITY SCHOOL PARTNER
Affinity Mentoring is dedicated to being a support to the school and community as a whole. We work closely with the school staff, parents and community partners to recruit volunteers and gather resources to meet the needs of the school (i.e., coat drives, donations of school supplies, etc.). Affinity Mentoring is continually working to create a positive school environment where families feel comfortable and supported. Several annual events celebrate these relationships between parents, students, mentors and school staff. Affinity Mentoring staff are also members of the Community School Leadership Teams at Burton and SWCC, the Kent County Mentoring Collaborative and the Mentor Michigan Provider’s Council.