Seedling’s Mentoring Program is as dedicated to evaluation as it is to program excellence. The professionals who make this program special believe that quality metrics lead to a quality experience.
In mentoring, you will often hear it said, “The caregiver is the gatekeeper of the mentoring relationship.” It is a fundamental truth, and this year, in addition to its surveys of the Mentees, Mentors and School Contacts, Seedling Foundation was able to perform a written and telephone survey of our Mentees’ Caregivers.
You may wonder why we refer to them as “Caregivers” rather than as “Parents.” Only 81.3% of our respondents were parents. The remaining respondents were grandparents, foster parents and other family members with temporary or permanent custody.
We wanted to know if the Mentees talked about their Mentors at home:
94.3 % of the Caregivers responded affirmatively and here are some of their quotes.
- “Yes, very much so.”
- “All the time.”
- “We love her.”
- “His Mentor is great and has helped so much.”
- “She loves her Mentor.”
We asked if the Caregivers felt that having a Mentor had helped their child believe in his/her abilities, improve self-esteem, and want to set goals for his/her future:.
90.8% of our respondents agreed or strongly agreed, and one caregiver reported that the child is so set on being a teacher now that when she plays with her younger siblings, she never allows them to be the teacher because that is her future role in life.
Seedling Foundation Mentor Directors studied Dr. Jean Rhodes’ theory on how mentoring improves lives as research to make the Seedling’s Mentor Program as effective as possible. Michael Garringer summarized Dr. Rhodes’ thoughts at a presentation in 2007 this way: “Outcomes from a mentoring relationship—whether improved grades, increased self-esteem, or declines in risky behavior—are often mediated by the youth’s parent and peer relationships. The youth may develop in the three areas Rhodes identifies (social-emotional, cognitive, and identity) but those improvements may not translate directly into positive outcomes unless those relationships with others improve as well. Thus, mentoring can be viewed as something other than a direct intervention—it’s not a straight line from relationship to outcome. The mentor may develop the young person in several ways, but how that newly developed young person in turn interacts with the world around him or her is what determines the ultimate outcomes.”
With this research in mind, we wanted to know if Caregivers thought that the Seedling’s Promise mentoring program had helped them and their children to grow in their relationships:
87.8% agreed or strongly agreed that Seedling and its Mentors had, indeed, had that effect. One caregiver was very excited that her daughter shares her daily activities with her since starting with her Mentor. She reported that, “Before my child got a Mentor she didn’t like to talk to me about anything.”
We asked Caregivers if they had noted behavioral changes in their children at home since their child was matched with a Seedling Mentor:
80.9% of the caregivers strongly agreed or agreed that the child has improved his/her behavior at home and has gotten along better with other family members.
91% of the caregivers strongly agreed or agreed that their hopes for the program had been met.
- Some had stories about the child’s behavior improving and stated that this outcome “was all I hoped for.”
- One mother wrote, “Si, con emocion.” [Yes, with emotion]
- Another caregiver wrote, “His mentor is great, and he has helped so much.”
One mother wrote across the bottom of the survey page, “Muchas Gracias a toda esta organizacion que tanto apoyo nos dan con nuestros hijos, en especial mi hija le motiva mucho convivir con la srita. Tutora, Mil Gracias! [Many thanks to the whole organization that helps us with our children, specially my daughter who gets motivated by spending time with her tutor, A Million Thanks!]
-Falba Turner, Director of Mentor Programs – Seedling Foundation