Empowering the faith community for youth mentoring: guidelines to implement and sustain quality programs

The 2011 Northeast Regional Mentoring Conference, Oct. 13-14 in Framingham, MA, will bring together more than 250 practitioners, researchers, and other stakeholders in the mentoring field. The conference's numerous workshops, covering various themes, will ultimately connect the outcomes and power of mentoring.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be highlighting the conference with previews to some of the workshops. This post is courtesy of presenter Clara Giles Carter, Ed. D, president of Management Consultant Services, LLC.

Many young people are faced with devastating social ills that doom them to failure. Often, many of these Clara Giles Carterchildren cannot break free from the poverty, crime, abuse or neglect that are a part of their every day lives.

Traditionally, churches of various denominations have been the "safe haven" for the community, providing family support services. Historically the church has played an integral part in a child's development, by demonstrating their commitment to address a wide range of social problems through special ministries.

Without attention from the church, many times, these unmet issues have been the root of a child's personal and educational failure. The constituency has tremendous leadership skills, enthusiasm and creativity in nurturing families, and protecting them from forces that would weaken or destroy the family unit. Research supports that the church and its congregation are ideal to instilling the type of spiritually based morals and values necessary for a child's growth, and strengthening his/her connection to "mainstream" society mentoring.

Today, more and more congregations are reaching out to their communities with ministries to include mentoring to address the wide range of social problems that youth encounter. With their tradition of instilling spiritual values and moral strength, churches are especially equipped to develop and support mentoring programs. The deep roots of faith ministries in the community can provide access to motivated volunteers to serve as mentors and attract young people who are in need of positive adult role models.

For the Northeast Regional Mentoring Conference attendees interested in implementing mentoring ministries, this workshop will highlight the faith-based institution as a vehicle for an innovative mentoring model. Presented in a "how-to" approach, the material presented will be adopted from the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring.

Additionally, for those religious leaders in need of tips to strengthen existing programs, the workshop will offer lessons learned, best practices and program guidelines that have proven success from established faith-based programs. The presenter, the former director of training at Maryland Mentoring Partnership, will share firsthand knowledge from her work with successful faith-based programs in Maryland.