January 2019, Vol. 5, No. 1
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers

January is National Mentoring Month, so we bring you quotes from not one, not two, but three notable figures in American life, each with a different perspective on the vital importance of mentors.
Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well, I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.
~ Denzel Washington
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
~ Steven Spielberg
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”
~ Oprah Winfrey
What is Mentoring and Why It Matters?

Youth mentoring can take many different forms. It can take place one-on-one through personal face-to-face meetings, in groups, through email exchanges, telephone conversations, letters, or any other form of communication. It can be done through schools, or at work or through community agencies.

The goals of a mentoring relationship are as varied as the individuals themselves. Through community-based mentoring, volunteers are matched with youth, with a general focus on building relationships and enhancing students' social activities. In school-based mentoring, adults or older peers are matched with students. Typically, activities are centered on academic, athletic or social engagement at school. In some cases, employers organize mentoring programs, with a group of employee-mentors matched with students in a specific classroom or school.

E-mentoring (telementoring) is a newer form of mentoring in which the mentor and mentee, communicate via email. E-mentoring is generally school-based and frequently focuses on career or academic achievement and improvement.
Want to learn more? We love this easy-to-use 2005 report issued by Partners for Youth with Disabilities. Don’t let the publication date fool you - it is chock full of useful information on mentoring models, best practice, how to start and maintain an effective mentoring program, how to evaluate a mentoring program and how to use mentoring to promote positive transition to employment and post-secondary settings. There is even an entire chapter (24 pages) dedicated to e-mentoring strategies, especially useful in rural areas or when transportation or language barriers present a challenge.

The resources section is full of useful tools and forms.

Why Mentoring is Important

Did you know that one in three young adults will grow up without a mentor? Young adults at risk of falling off track but who have a mentor are:

  • 52% less likely to skip a day of school.
  • 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs.
  • 55% more likely to enroll in college.
  • 78% more likely to volunteer on a regular basis.
  • 130% more likely to hold a leadership position.

(Data from the National Mentoring Partnership)
Youth-Initiated Mentoring

“Mentorship is something you do for yourself.”

In this TEDx presentation, Doug Stewart describes his “alarm clock moment” when he suddenly realized that he was capable of doing more. Faced with challenges of dyslexia, ADHD, and narcolepsy, he seeks out mentors everywhere that can help him become the best version of himself.

Do you want to learn more about youth-initiated mentoring? Check out this webinar by the National Mentoring Resource Center featuring Sarah Schwartz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, at Suffolk University; Whitney Baker, Director of Operations at MENTOR Nebraska; and Ellie Cuifalo, Youth Mentor Program Coordinator, at Klingberg Family Centers.

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Social Capital Map

It seems so simple. A pie chart. This easy-to-use visual tool produced by The National Mentoring Partnership can help students take a look at who they know and how those relationships can help them.

Mentoring for Inclusion

This hour-long webinar from the National Disability Mentoring Coalition looks at how to use mentoring as a strategy to remove barriers to full inclusion in jobs, schools, and the community.

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Networking Tips

Sometimes, it is not what you know, but who you know. In addition to having a mentor, it can be very useful to learn how to ‘network.’

We love these five simple networking tips from Sandy Lovejoy, a contributing writer at Monster.com.

Step 1: List Potential Prospects - Write down the name of anyone you know or have heard about in the field or close to the field you want to work in. Then make lists of everyone you can think of who will support your efforts to find a job, no matter what work they might do. Your hairdresser knows many people, all of whom talk about their work while being beautified. Your neighbor's father-in-law may be the one who supplies a crucial name.

Step 2: Contact as Many of Those People as Possible - A short conversation, a telephone message saying that you're looking for work and would appreciate a call back if they are aware of anyone looking to fill a position or an email to your contact list could be all it takes.

Step 3: Be Clear About What You Want - You should be able to articulate what you can bring to the job and what you hope to get from it. Having your own clarity makes you more convincing to everyone you talk to. Consider the concerns you have about your disability (if any) as well as the concerns you think others might have, and how you will respond to them. Write out your goals, your strengths, and your plans for overcoming any obstacles. This gives you more conviction when talking to others.

Step 4: Do Some Informational Interviewing - Find one or more companies you think might offer the type of work you hope to do and that seem to have a culture you would feel comfortable in. If you don't know of any when you begin your search, you can mention that you're looking for such a place when you talk to your contact list. Contact the receptionist or someone who knows the organization and ask who would be the best person to talk to for the position you're interested in.

Informational interviews are important for several reasons. Yes, you'll find out a lot about different companies and potential jobs, but you'll also learn how to present yourself and your skills during an actual job interview. Think of informational interviews as rehearsals for interviews that count. And remember that with each informational interview, you've just made another important networking contact.

Step 5: Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open - Have the courage to ask people to introduce you to someone who might be instrumental in getting you in the door for an interview. Those in a position to hire are happy to hear from people they know and respect about prospects.

Paving the Way to Work
Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career-Focused Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities is produced by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth at the Institute for Educational Leadership. This comprehensive report includes guideposts for success, suggestions and steps for starting a mentoring program, as well as supporting research to demonstrate efficacy.

The TARGET Center
We love this resource! The TARGET Center at the US Department of Agriculture features a terrific Disability Mentoring toolkit packed with resources, media, and content related to the partnership between the USDA and the National Disability Mentoring Coalition. It is a central hub for the USDA, federal agencies and others interested in leveraging mentoring to support the recruitment, placement, retention and advancement of individuals with disabilities and disabled veterans in the workforce.

Help for Mentors
Do you know someone who is willing to be a mentor to a student with disabilities but who needs some basic support and guidance? We love this simple two-page tip sheet produced by the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN).

National Disability Mentoring Coalition
This nationwide nonprofit aims to raise awareness about the importance and impact of mentoring in the lives of people with disabilities, and to increase the number and quality of disability mentoring programs around the country.

Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring is a national group for, and run by, college students with disabilities. They seek to advance the interests of students with disabilities, in post-secondary institutions, and their allies across the United States. The website offers information and resources, including archived webinars and links to local campus-based chapters.

Do you need help finding a mentor? Look no further.
Mentor.org features a search program that can help you find a mentoring program aligned with your goals.

National Mentoring Resource Center
This program, affiliated with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in the US Department of Justice, offers resources, no-cost training and technical assistance.

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Best Practices for Mentoring Programs for Youth with Disabilities

Here are five quick ‘take-aways’ from a report developed by Partners for Youth with Disabilities that describes best practices. The report outlines how to start an effective mentoring program for youth with disabilities.

1) Establish a clear structure for serving youth with various kinds of disabilities.

  • Handle disclosure of disability-related information carefully.
  • Systematically use reasonable accommodations so youth and mentors can participate fully in the program’s activities (i.e., personal care assistants, sign language interpretation, etc.).
  • Keep in mind that disabilities vary widely among youth. What works for one youth may not work for another youth with a different disability.

2) Provide appropriate disability-related training to all program staff.

  • Be sure to have regular trainings for all staff. It is important to keep staff abreast of new resources, community agencies and research in the disability field. Often, local organizations that specialize in specific disability-related services can provide information and/or resources for your trainings. Potential places to gather information may be Independent Living Centers, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, transportation services, and adaptive recreational programs.
  • Fully cover disability-related issues during mentor training.
  • Use follow-ups, refresher training and mentor support groups to address any disability-related questions or concerns.

3) Mentors should encourage discussion of disabilities as a part of the mentoring relationship.

  • A major goal of mentoring programs for youth with disabilities is for youth to become comfortable discussing their disabilities and advocating for themselves.

4) Make sure mentors and mentees communicate regularly.

  • Youth with disabilities may be more likely to have experienced failed relationships and lack of adult guidance. As a consequence, they may become frustrated and withdraw from the mentoring relationship if they do not communicate with their mentors on a frequent, ongoing basis. There are many ways to keep the relationship connected, even if it becomes more difficult to physically connect. Ideas for remaining connected include fun cards, phone calls, emails, and post cards. Encourage the mentors to contact the mentees when they see a topic or read about an article in the newspaper or a magazine that they find interesting and that they think their mentee would enjoy hearing about. Also, encourage the mentors to find topics of interest to both the mentor and mentee that they can explore together (science, technology, cultural events, music, sports, etc.) and use that topic as a base from which to develop rapport or get to know each other better.
  • Encourage the mentors to not become discouraged when they may feel inadequate about the amount of time they are able to commit. Encourage them to use various ways to remain connected and to create a quality experience in the time they are able to meet.

5) Ensure that your program is physically and programmatically accessible to all youth.

  • Consider the accessibility of your website, recruitment materials, physical location, training locations, activities, interview procedures, and evaluation procedures.

From Partners for Youth with Disabilities - Best Practices for Mentoring Youth with Disabilities

What Works?

The National Mentoring Resource Center has issued a 2018 report detailing research findings on the benefits of mentoring for youth with disabilities, and implications for practice. Among their findings: a self-determination approach can be particularly empowering!

Contrasting Crowns: Redefining Beauty and Disability

Blogger Kyann Flint believes that disability can be beautiful. “As of now, the mindset of society is our greatest barrier.”

Calendar of Events
January 16, 2019
RAISE Webinar: The Art of Youth Development and Leadership Programming Development. 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm (EST).

January 30, 2019 - February 1, 2019
National Mentoring Summit
Washington, D.C.

March 22, 2019
Facing the Future, NJ APSE
New Brunswick, NJ

June 18, 2019 - June 20, 2019
APSE Gateway to Inclusive Employment
St. Louis, MO
Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Peg Kinsell
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RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
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RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.