UW Combined Fund Drive

January 15, 2024

Be a guiding light: get inspired and get involved in mentoring

January may be most celebrated—or cursed (depending on your perspective)—as the season of new resolutions and fresh starts.

But did you know it’s also National Mentoring Month?

Since its establishment in 2002, January has been designated as a time to help others make fruitful starts and guide their success in school, work and life.

Mentoring is an effective way to do it. The exchange of expertise and experience between a mentor and a mentee provides a wealth of benefits to both parties. Mentoring improves confidence, hones communication skills, improves goal-setting, enhances listening skills and develops organizational skills. It introduces new experiences and opens doors. It promotes equity and builds community.

“Mentors give students clarity about what they want in life and career and the confidence to find a pathway forward,” says Colette Vogel, director of the MBA Mentor Program at the UW Foster School of Business. “They help students make sense of the world, navigate uncertainty and reframe goals. We find that those students who weather adversity particularly well often have several mentors they have engage with for different aspects of their lives.”

Best of all, when done correctly, mentoring leaves everyone feeling inspired.

How inspired? A 2019 survey commissioned by MENTOR, a respected national advocate, showed that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make positive choices, attend and engage in school, and resist negative behaviors. In turn, young people who receive positive mentoring are:

  • 55% more likely to enroll in college,
  • 81% more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities,
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities,
  • Twice as likely to hold a leadership position in a club or sports team.

Significantly, 90% of young people who were mentored reported interest in becoming mentors themselves.

Yet the same study reveals that one in three young people in the United States—16 million kids—are growing up without a mentor of any kind. Even more troubling: the greater the risk factors a young person faces in their lives, the less likely they are to have a mentor.

Get involved, get inspired

How can you help close this “mentor gap?” There are numerous organizations that could use your help—either as a volunteer mentor or through financial support. Here are organizations in the UW Combined Fund Drive that are built around mentoring young people in our community.

HEY MENTOR (charity code: 1482543) – supports underserved students as they navigate pathways to college and career success through academic planning, financial and socio-economic skills and resources.

MENTOR Washington (Charity Code: 1478936) – promotes, supports, and expands quality mentoring in Washington that fosters positive youth development, academic success, and job and career readiness.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound (Charity Code: 0320809) – creates and supports 1:1 mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth so that every kid is empowered to graduate with a plan for their future and a mentor whose impact lasts a lifetime.

More great opportunities

Many other UWCFD-affiliated organizations include youth mentoring as part of their portfolio of support in their communities, including:

The Alexander Hamilton Friends Association (Charity Code: 1481882) – focuses on closing the opportunity gap by selecting up to 40 underserved high school juniors for their academic, personal, service and entrepreneurial promise, then providing five years of practical support and empowerment, including mentorship.

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (Charity Code: 1480408) – works to substantially increase Native American representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as students, professionals, mentors and leaders.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington (Charity Code: 0315262) – helps children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one community and school/site-based mentoring relationship.

The Breakfast Group (Charity Code: 1481367) – provides critical support, mentoring and empowerment of at-risk youths of color and especially young Black males, who are susceptible to gang activity, violence, drugs and classroom disruption, imparting the values of responsibility, leadership and accountability.

College Success Foundation (Charity Code: 0337348) – provides college scholarships and mentoring to low-income, high-potential students.

Community for Youth (Charity Code: 0329900) – inspires and supports young people in King County to identify and achieve their goals through mentoring, teaching experiences and participation in a powerful community.

Friends of the Children-Seattle (Charity Code: 1478506) – impacts generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors.

IGNITE (Charity Code: 1480304) – inspires girls to pursue STEM education and careers through the establishment of job shadows, field trips, mentorships and industry presentations.

International Rescue Committee-Seattle (Charity Code: 1472339) – helps refugees rebuild their lives in the Puget Sound region through case management, employment services, mentoring, education and immigration assistance.

Orion Industries (Charity Code: 1483197) – offers hope and creates paths to employment through building self-esteem, mentoring, training, education, community services and successful businesses.