Mass Mentoring Counts case study: Strong Women, Strong Girls

Mass Mentoring Counts (MMC) is a biennial statewide youth mentoring survey in Massachusetts,  conducted for MMP by the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, which reveals mentoring trends, gaps and program practices. In preparation for the release of the 2012 MMC survey to programs, we asked some programs to share how past MMC surveys have been helpful. Today’s guest post is from Amy Howard, executive director at Strong Women Strong Girls in Boston.

Strong Women, Strong Girls (SWSG) is a national nonprofit organization currently operating programs in three cities that range drastically in size, culture, and resources. As the local executive director for SWSG Boston, I am always on the lookout for research on mentoring that is specific to the communities we serve. SWSG engages college women as mentors to 3rd-5th grade girls at 55 school and community-based sites throughout Greater Boston.

Understanding the other services available at these sites and throughout the 12  neighborhoods we currently serve can be daunting, but tools like Mass Mentoring Counts help to do just that. In just a few short months at SWSG, I have used Mass Mentoring Counts to survey the landscape of mentoring at our current and prospective sites, brainstorm ideas for collaboration, and make the case for an increased investment of time and money in certain areas of our city.

Like many mentoring programs in the area, SWSG raises the majority of our private funds from Boston-based funders who want to better understand the climate of mentoring and girl-serving programs throughout the city, including how different programs coordinate their services to better meet the needs of youth. Having access to up-to-date, region-specific research is critical to my ability to make the case for SWSG and its expansion with regional funders. Most recently, I referred to Mass Mentoring Counts to highlight the critical importance of adding new program sites in the under-served areas of Dorchester and Mattapan to a local funder.

As a leader of a mentoring program dedicated to empowering women and girls, I have a responsibility to understand the full landscape of mentoring programs in Boston and across the Commonwealth. I also have a duty to collaborate with other programs to coordinate services. Comprehensive research like Mass Mentoring Counts helps me, it helps my colleagues, and most importantly, it helps all of us to better serve young people.