You Can Make A Difference
Mentor A Student
Mentors are volunteers who help with school work, encourage students to identify their interests, listen carefully, talk about opportunities, and consult with coordinators about possible help for serious problems. They help build the student’s confidence and motivation to graduate and to pursue an appropriate future in college and/or career. They share their own experiences, if these are likely to be relevant and encouraging. They never forget to listen.
What Does It Take To Be A Mentor?
The Basics: Mentors have time available, follow the guidelines, and are dependable. They meet a volunteer coordinator for an interview, get their background clearances, take a two-hour training, send in a photo for a badge, show up for an orientation at the school prior to beginning. Then they show up every week on the same day for at least 90 minutes to meet with their student. At the end of each session, they submit a brief Weekly Mentor Report to Oakland Serves.
The Right Approach: Mentors are empathetic and non-judgmental: They are able to listen, learn, and sometimes change their own beliefs and behavior as they learn more about the circumstances keeping mentees from doing their best. They have patience and the ability to keep their cool as they gradually inspire trust.
The Brain Power: Mentors are knowledgeable: They are well educated and able to help high school students get their homework done in at least one of the subjects required for graduation: English, math, and science. Some college level education is good, but not required.
The Motive: Not all motives are the same. Some want to do something really worthwhile and help make the world a better place. Some want to get valuable experience and build their resume. Some are looking for internships. All honorable motives are fine.
An Oakland Serves Mentor Can Expect To...
Get a background clearance from our partner, Be A Mentor. This includes a TB test (or certificate) and fingerprinting. It may take a few days or a few weeks so should be begun as soon as possible. Your health insurance will normally cover your TB test and we will gladly help locate a fingerprinting location near you. Any costs are reimbursed.
Attend a free mentor training. Trainings are held every third Saturday afternoon of the month.
Meet and work with the same student every week, 3 hours per week, for seven to eight months during the school year, giving substantive help with homework.
Be a positive role model, develop a relationship of trust and respect with your student, and provide counseling as well as academic support.
Report regularly to the Volunteer Coordinator and participate, to the extent possible, in workshops and other planned events for mentors and students.
The Relationship with the School: Mentors understand that teachers and administrators are often working in difficult circumstances in Oakland’s schools and that our success depends on helping them by helping their most at-risk students do their homework. (It’s not up to us to tell them how to do their jobs!) This means mentors are cooperative and flexible, and get in touch as need be.
The Reports: Each mentor submits a brief Weekly Mentor Report to Oakland Serves: date, time spent with student, what was accomplished, any other important details.
Interested in mentoring for Oakland Serves?
Want To Know More About How We Find, Prepare and
Place The Volunteer Mentors? Read On...
All members of the Oakland Serves Team seek to interest others in our program by talking about it, putting up recruitment posters and seeking new supporters.
Three members have special responsibilities:
Sujata N. is our Outreach Consultant. She helps with all aspects of recruitment and specializes in maintaining contact with past supporters and enlisting new ones. She keeps and updates our contact list, arranges visits, and makes appropriate requests: she asks businesses and institutions that regularly require employees to engage in community support to arrange released time for mentoring for Oakland Serves. She asks leaders in all domains to publicize the work of Oakland Serves and its need for well qualified volunteers. She sometimes asks for donations and explains how they will be used. She asks school administrators to agree to accept and place our mentors, explaining how we monitor their work. (The schools are never asked for money).
Ina Z. (Left) is the Managing Editor and Avi S. (Right) is the Graphics Editor for our Newsletter, The Graduation Advocate, our Website, and our use of social media. Through these, they provide periodically updated information and provide an Expression of Interest form to submit.
Thanks to these efforts, every month brings new would-be volunteers to us and we prepare them to go to work.
Preparing Mentors: Meet Our Volunteer Coordinators
Maya F. arranges and conducts interviews and develops mentor profiles covering past experience with youth, subjects preferred for tutoring, hours of availability during class times, etc. The applicant reviews and approves/corrects the profiles.
Sharon R. provides trainings focused on how to help those at risk of dropping out stay in school. Trainings are held the third Saturday of every month.
Ina Z. helps applicants attain background clearances (registration, fingerprints, TB tests). Works closely with Be A Mentor and keeps close track of how far every applicant has advanced in the process.
Kay L. meets with school administrators to present profiles and learn how exactly each school plans to proceed with placements. Later on mentors submit Weekly Mentor Reports and she responds to them.
Nora B. makes badges before mentoring begins, then maintains data from Weekly Mentor Reports (redacting names to preserve student privacy)
Mentors may attend the monthly open Board meeting; time is always provided for them to discuss what works and how things are going.
Placing Mentors In The Schools
The normal procedure is:
The school reviews the profiles, decides on possible matches (mentors and mentees) and secures student and family consent to participation in the program.
The school holds the orientation meeting one or two weeks before mentoring is set to begin, and provides useful information (school calendar, whom to contact and when, and what they expect from the mentors (each school has its own areas of emphasis and we honor that). Special briefings are provided by Oakland Serves for mentors whose work does not allow them to attend orientation.
Mentoring begins one to two weeks after orientation, and continues throughout the rest of the school year (holidays excepted).
Once mentoring begins, and mentors have begun submitting Weekly Mentor Reports, Oakland Serves interacts with administrators to solve any problems.
There is absolutely no charge to the school for what we do.