Mentoring USA’s mission is to create sustained and supportive mentor relationships for children in need ages 7—21. The program matches youth across the country with inspirational adult mentors who can guide them in developing better self-esteem, creating healthy relationships, and making positive life choices. Many youth enter the program experiencing varying levels of educational difficulties or social challenges. Furthermore Mentoring USA has specific programs to target youth in care and adopted youth. Studies show that children who succeed despite enormous personal, economic or social obstacles often times do so because of the presence of committed and competent role models who believe in them.

The Mentoring USA Model

Through the Mentoring USA site based model mentors and mentees meet in a supervised environment at a set time and location-a format which not only allows for the volunteer mentors to properly manage their busy schedules, but also provides the much needed consistency to the mentoring relationship. One-to-one simply refers to each mentor being matched with on mentee so that they can focus their full attention on one youth and build a trusting relationship. Though mentors at our sites are matched with one youth, they are almost always in the presence of other mentors and mentees. This provides an added support mechanism along with the option of rewarding group activities and presentations. All mentors are asked to commit to mentoring for one school year for 4-6 hours per month; although many continue working with their mentee for two or more years.

Mentoring USA programs are incubated in partnering schools, community centers, foster care agencies, and other non-profits. All sites are supported by MUSA Program Managers who work directly with Site Supervisors at each site to ensure that the programs run smoothly. These supervisors work together to build an environment that is comfortable for the mentoring matches along with providing activities, on-going support, and training to everyone in the program. The Program Manager and Site Supervisor ultimately act as safety nets and support systems to mentors to ensure the growth between mentor and mentee.

Mentoring USA’s programs incorporate a number of initiatives that facilitate and guide mentors to focus on their mentee’s individual needs. Financial Education, Healthy Lifestyles & Self Esteem, Art and Anti-violence are initiatives incorporated into the programs through activities and outside facilitators such as the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Along with completing Mentoring USA activities, mentors also help their mentees with school work, play games that encourage socialization, provide guidance and advice, and simply listen to their mentee. Every mentee is different and therefore every mentoring relationship looks different, but the reward for both the mentee and mentor is undeniable.

Learn About Our Programs

General Mentoring

Our mentors volunteer in several categories, including General Mentoring, Foster Care, LGBT Youth, and Workplace Mentoring. Read on to learn about our programs:

Through our Career Days and Workplace Mentoring program, young people receive guidance and mentoring through structured activities, job shadowing, skills-based mentoring, and educational initiatives. Learn more.
Our Financial Education Initiative helps young people learn more about financial basics and navigate the fundamentals of personal finance, and encourages personal financial responsibility. Learn more.
This core program component focuses on improving mentees’ self-efficacy, combatting school dropout, and helping mentees make the connection between their current school experience and the outcomes they can achieve later in life. Learn more.
This program focuses on developing good exercise habits, nutrition and healthy lifestyles knowledge and awareness, and improved self-esteem. Learn more.
One of the most impactful ways mentors can influence mentees is by modeling positive behaviors that help them learn to respect themselves and others. Learn more.

Targeted Populations

Youth in Care

Mentoring USA has a long commitment to youth in care, including those in foster care and those transitioning out of the system. Among our current program partners are Good Shepherd Services and New Alternatives for Children.

Recognizing the impact of Mentoring USA’s programs on the children we serve, in 1998, Matilda Raffa Cuomo met with Nicholas Scoppetta, then New York City Commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), to discuss expanding Mentoring USA to address the needs of the sorely underserved population of children in foster care. As a result of that meeting, and with ACS endorsement and involvement, Mentoring USA developed the first training materials for volunteer mentors interested in working with this special group of neglected and often abandoned children. This was followed in 2000 with the launch of Mentoring USA’s Foster Care Initiative, the first mentoring program in the nation to specifically address the critical needs of the foster care population.

Youth at Risk of Drop-Out

Mentoring for Real is an innovative program that launched in 2012, a collaboration between then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & School Engagement, the NYC Young Men’s Initiative, and the NYC Department of Education. Mentoring USA is working with the NYC Department of Education in identifying teenage boys at-risk of truancy and suspension. This innovative new mentoring program provides these young men with one-to-one mentoring support through Mentoring USA.