your Volunteers

ASPIRE Mentors are the heart and soul of Oregon’s statewide ASPIRE program.

Mentors in your ASPIRE program work with middle school, high school, and/or college students to guide and assist them as they determine their future plans. They will connect with students one-on-one, in small groups, during events and/or activities. Mentors work is rewarding as they assist and help students focus on career exploration, career and college research, admissions applications, scholarships, and financial aid.

The time people give to volunteer to help mentor kids, who may not have the support at home they need to get through the process is invaluable!” – An ASPIRE Mentor

Quick Start Resources


“Many people want to contribute to their communities in one way or another; ASPIRE provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the future of a community.” – ASPIRE Mentor

REcruitment

Starting an ASPIRE program can seem a bit daunting. Recruitment is often the biggest area of concern for a new coordinator. It is important to remember that building a strong mentor program will exponentially increase your capacity. As mentors work with students 1-on-1 or in groups, it frees you up to work on other projects, and tasks. You also are given more opportunity to do activities in classrooms or plan for after school or evening events that will reach more students and families.


As you begin recruiting here are some important things to remember:


  1. Have Materials Ready: When someone expresses interest, be prepared to hand them an application packet or send them an email with more information about the opportunity. Keep extra Mentor Application Packets[Attach PDF] on hand.

  2. Communicate Clearly: Make it clear what the application, review, and orientation process is like for new mentors - this sets mutual expectations and fosters professionalism in your program, along with creating more buy-in.

  3. Share Stories: Share the impact ASPIRE has made on your students and your current mentors. When you hear compelling stories share those stories with potential volunteers. It is important to ask permission to share a student or mentor story.

  4. Follow Up: Have people that expressed interest? Maintain contact and follow-up within two working days of their inquiry. This can be through a letter, phone call, or email. Following up shows that you are genuinely interested in the mentor and the impact they can have in your ASPIRE site.

Additional Resources:

Application & Matching

Application

Once a community member or staff have expressed interest in becoming a volunteer at your site, they will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Community Mentor Application Packet: Complete and return the application packet (application, agreement, position description) along with any other site-specific materials required to the ASPIRE site coordinator.

  2. Interview Process: Site coordinator requests a time to discuss the mentor position and responsibilities. During this conversation coordinator might also ask for schedule availability and share information about the ASPIRE program.

  3. Mentor Matching Form: Coordinators can encourage mentors to complete this form to learn more about their background and interests in ASPIRE. OR you can use this form to ask questions during your interview.

  4. Background Check: The site coordinator must ensure the mentor completes their background check, since they will be working with youth. Sites may choose to use their own process for background checks or use the Oregon Department of Education background check process. Volunteer Background Check

roles

Types of Volunteers

  • Traditional Mentors: An adult volunteer (18 years or older), recruited and screened by an ASPIRE site, to assist regularly. Traditional mentors may meet with students:

      • Mentor students 1:1

      • Mentor in Groups

      • Mentor in project-based activities (Example: Coordinator calls down all students eligible for Oregon Promise and mentors meet specifically to share this information)

  • Staff Mentor: Mentors that are permanent staff employees of an ASPIRE Site (schools, community-based organizations, etc.) that are assisting students with their future plans in 1-on-1, group, or classroom settings.

  • Peer Mentor: An ASPIRE high school junior or senior who have been trained as peer mentors and matched with younger students to help them with the early stages of college and career exploration.

Expanded Roles

  • Team Lead: Experienced and dedicated mentors may take on this role. Team Leads assist Coordinators with their site administrative duties, help recruit more volunteers, and take added responsibility in managing site resources. (Position Description)

Other Community Volunteers

  • Career or Industry Volunteers: These are episodic volunteers that present college/career-focused presentation or activities for groups of students in classroom settings or for ASPIRE Center activities/events. Individual ASPIRE Site administration decides if one-time presenters must complete a background check.

Training

Training

Once a mentor has completed and passed the background check, mentors need to complete their ASPIRE site orientation and training before working with students.

Coordinators schedule a time to meet with the approved volunteer to review:

  • Mentor Responsibilities and Resource Guide

  • Introduce Mentor Toolkit

  • Volunteering Basics [video] – Coordinators can choose to have mentors complete this task during or prior to orientation. The video is a great overview and essential information needed to help support students in their career/college plans.

  • ASPIRE Site Training should include a tour of your ASPIRE Center, introductions to staff, overview site policies/procedures, and a review of the Mentor Responsibilities and Resource Guide.

  • Set-up Mentor Schedule – Depending on the mentor’s availability, determine the days/times mentors will work at the ASPIRE site. Also determine how the mentor will serve students (1-on-1, group mentoring, or project-based mentoring activities)

  • Give mentor the opportunity to shadow a current mentor (if possible)

  • Leave time for questions

retaining volunteers

Empower your Volunteers: Fully trained mentors give mentors confidence and the tools needed to succeed in their role. Coordinators should also try and discover unique skills and abilities and match them with tasks that maximize their strengths.

Recognition: Clearly show appreciation and recognition to your mentors. (Verbal praise, notes of gratitude, end of the year mentor recognition events/gifts, etc.)

Good Communication: Be clear with expectations, give opportunities for personal growth (training) and regularly engage with mentors. It’s always nice to figure out what kind of feedback method (verbal, written, text, email, phone, etc.) is most appreciated by your mentors and be intentional about trying to use their preferred way to communicate.

  • Give Feedback: Support your mentors by taking notes of their efforts, offering resources to fill in their knowledge gaps, and giving feedback on areas for improvement. You are there to support their development as a mentor.

  • Ask for Feedback: Their opinions need to matter. Listen to their ideas and build an environment that supports open communication.

Develop a TEAM Environment

When you can, include your team in decision making. As you implement ideas/suggestions from your mentors and use feedback from spring surveys to improve your ASPIRE site, you create a collaborative team environment that will help build a strong team culture.

Build an Inviting ASPIRE Center

  • Create a comfortable workspace for mentors and students to meet

  • Provide needed resources, supplies and materials that will assist mentors as they serve students

  • Create a center that visually embraces both college and career research, exploration and support