Mentoring and Mother’s Day

This year, Hour Children, Inc., a nonprofit in Long Island City, New York, ran a series of videos that were heartfelt letters from children challenged by parental incarceration to their mothers in prison.

They plan to run a similar series on Father’s Day, and we look forward to sharing them with you.

Watch and listen, because to hear a child’s feelings is more compelling than any statistics we could share with you, but trust us, Seedling Mentor Program is research-based, and we will keep sharing those numbers.

These videos give those numbers faces and voices and help us all relate to hundreds of thousands of children of prisoners in this country.

What can you do?

You can mentor. One hour a week at a child’s school throughout the school year makes a measurable difference. We know, because we measure it.

Seedling Mentor Program will train you, prepare you, and support you throughout your mentoring journey, and yes, we even measure how effective this kind of mentoring is for our volunteers. 70% or more of our mentors come back year after year and make a life-long impact in a child’s life.

Is the 2016-2017 school year your year to change two lives for the better? We will be here, ready when you are.

Many thanks to Hour Children, Inc., for making these videos and sharing them with all of us who care about the children challenged by parental incarceration.

~Seedling Mentor Program Staff

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Why Closure is So Important in Mentoring

Time for Goodbyes Clock

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

There are only a few weeks left in the Central Texas school year, and it is time to think about closure.

As a mentor, your primary focus is getting to know the wonderful young person for whom you have created a space in your heart. As your relationship progresses from week to week, the farthest thing from your mind is the thought of saying goodbye. Some mentors even imagine that they will someday watch their mentee graduate from high school, and maybe even college!

There are relationships where this happens, but more often than not, the reality is different, and mentoring ends at different times, for all sorts of reasons. The most common reason, life happens. Your mentee moves away suddenly, it is no longer feasible for you to leave the office to mentor at lunch once a week, or sometimes a mentee’s poor school attendance makes it impossible to continue. Or, sometimes the mentor or mentee realizes that mentoring just isn’t what they imagined and the relationship is cut short due to dissatisfaction.

The natural breaking point of a mentoring relationship is the best time to have a healthy goodbye. For example, when mentors and mentees agree their relationship will end when he/she moves into middle school, or high school, or closure is planned in advance due to a pending move. Closure is a stage in the relationship that cannot be skipped over. As the adult it is your responsibility to plan for closure with your mentee and that it happens well! Sometimes researchers talk about good closure as “starting a relationship at the beginning with the end in mind.”

Mentor Mentee Clasping Hands

Image courtesy of phanlop88 at

How can you plan ahead for the healthiest closure? Continue reading

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Thanking Our Mentors

Mentor Appreciation 2016 LogoEach year, we gather our Mentors, School Contacts, Supporters, Seedling Scholarship Winners and Seedling Scholarship Graduates together with Seedling Staff and Board of Directors to say…


We know that this program that touches the lives of so many children in the Central Texas area would not exist without the collaboration and volunteerism from our hosting school districts and our generous community.

And so, we gather to reflect on the accomplishments of the year that is nearly concluded and to re-commit ourselves to these children who are challenged by parental incarceration.  We are also overjoyed to welcome new Seedling College Scholarship Winners into the fold, and to congratulate our Seedling College Scholarship Graduates who are fulfilling the promise we saw in them four short years ago.

It is a magical event, and we hope you will check your email if you are involved with the program, and RSVP now. We are planning something special for you this year, and it is important to know if you are coming.

Questions? Contact Diana Coston at 512.323.6371.  We look forward to seeing you there.

~Seedling Mentor Program Staff

Posted in Children in Poverty, Children of Incarcerated Parents, Mentoring, Site-Based Mentoring | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Support Your “Tested” Mentee

2015-12-15 iStock CDo you know how your mentee is feeling about the upcoming STAAR tests? A mentor is a friend and a guide. A mentor may not be the person to teach a mentee the skills for the test, but you can help a child identify and improve an attitude.

A mentor’s best tools are open-ended questions to help you begin or extend the conversation and encouraging statements to move your mentee’s thinking in a positive direction.

Sometimes a mentor asks how to introduce this topic.

  • The best way to bring up testing is to remind your mentee that you will miss a week of visiting.
  • Talk about it while doing an activity so that the mentee will be less guarded.
  • Give an example in your current life (or past) about a test, performance, or performance review.
  • Use the “back door” by asking how a friend or sibling is feeling about the tests.

Your mentee’s words or body language may indicate a mindset toward testing that you would like to influence. A mentor’s best tools are open-ended questions and encouraging statements.

How to respond to some attitudes you may see in your Mentee:
Here are seven typical attitudes a student might express about testing. For each possible
attitude, we’ve provided one or two examples of open ended questions to help extend the
conversation, and sample encouraging statements that can help move your mentee to a
positive mindset.

Confident – “I’m doing pretty well on the practice tests, so I think I’ll pass.”

  • What does your teacher suggest you do when you get stuck on the practice test?
  • You’ve been doing well on your practice tests by listening to your teacher. That’s great!

Note: Sometimes a confident student may rush to finish first. Encourage your mentee to follow the teacher’s advice about re-checking your work. If your mentee sometimes has trouble with time management, you may want to point out that a good performance must mean the student remained focused and didn’t daydream. Continue reading

Posted in Children in Poverty, Children of Incarcerated Parents, Mentoring, Site-Based Mentoring | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mentoring Story – Tucker & Kevin

Seedling Mentor & Mentee

Tucker Furlow & Kevin

Sometimes we’re led to believe that people in far away communities need the most help, that a dollar here or there will benefit someone today and that giving money is the ultimate sacrifice. While every nonprofit needs funding to function, it’s often times the work of the volunteers, after the money is raised by the organization, that impacts individuals the most.

For one local student, time spent between him and his mentor was so valuable and the impact was so strong that it’s urged him to give.

Kevin, the student in this picture, and Tucker, his mentor, met through the Seedling Mentor Program and have been meeting for lunch every week for the past 5 years. Kevin, who is now a junior in high school, credits Tucker for helping him “stay focused on everything that is positive in his life.”

Without dwelling on his past, Kevin has experienced many hardships in his childhood and is excelling in his teenaged years. His father was arrested when he was younger and then deported. Today his mother works three jobs to keep the bills paid and food on the table. Kevin works extremely hard to be a good student and plans to attend Texas A&M University. He looks forward to college and the opportunity to jump into a career that will change the trajectory of his family.

When Kevin was in middle school, he was leading a tour of the school for Jeff Thomas from HEB. Thomas was so impressed with Kevin, that he offered him a job when he turned 16 years old. A few days after sending in his HEB application, Kevin was in an accident and badly burned, but he did start his job at HEB as soon as he was well enough to work. He is very proud of his job and was offered cashier training after he’d been there for 4 weeks, noting that most employees have to be there for a year before being promoted to cashier.

Over the years, Kevin has had the opportunity to engage with local nonprofits to create a better life. Kevin recognizes and credits his support from the community, not only from Seedling Foundation and his mentor, but also from other programs, like United Way, where he not only has benefited from their services, but also gives back as a volunteer. Continue reading

Posted in Children of Incarcerated Parents, Mentoring, Mentors & Donors Speak Out, Site-Based Mentoring | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment