How to become a mentor - Be an inspiration to someone

A mentor, in the most basic form of the word, is simply a teacher. Or, as Oprah Winfrey once put it, a mentor “is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

Whether you are an adult with a specific skill to share, a kid who wants to help other kids, or you’re just willing to be there and listen when a kid needs someone to lean on, can connect you to an organization in Manhattan can help you put your time where your heart is.

You can opt for the traditional one-on-one mentoring matchup of Big Brothers Big Sisters, where a kid is simply paired with a caring adult who agrees to spend quality time on meetings and outings.

Or you could go with the more targeted approach of Girls Write Now, where professional writers help young women find their voice.

Or, if you’re a kid who likes to share what you’ve learned with other kids, there’s DIY, a monitored online community where kids learn, create, share and critique each other’s projects.

The steps for getting involved in mentoring programs in NYC vary a bit from organization to organization, but the level of complexity is generally related to the degree to which you will become personally involved with a particular child. Here’s a look at some options:

One-On-One Mentoring

Big Brothers Big Sisters, the oldest mentoring organization in the city, pairs more than 5,000 New York City youths with mentors every year. The process starts with an adult application, followed by a staff review and an orientation meeting. If all goes well at this point, you’ll need to go through a more detailed screening, which includes a 90-minute interview to catalogue your interests and background. After a formal background check is done, you’ll go through a 2-1/2 hour training session to go through scenarios that might come up before you meet your match and his or her family. You can view the stories of a few of the city’s matches on’s Big Brother Big Sisters page.

Another of the city’s large mentoring organizations, the New York City Mentoring Program, matches associations, organizations or businesses with high schools. The schools work with volunteer mentor coordinators to pair kids with adults who can help them guide their academic, professional and personal lives. Since 1983, the program says 97 percent of its 1,200 student enrollees have graduated from high school and enrolled in college.

Skill Set Mentoring

Girls Write Now recruits professional writers to help the city’s young female writers turn their raw words into honed stories, plays, podcasts and more. Mentors need to bring at least two years of professional experience to the project and commit to weekly writing sessions, monthly workshops and special events with their mentees. The results, as seen on, have been impressive.

Online Mentoring

Kids join the adult-monitored site DIY mostly to take online courses, engage with other kids with similar interests and expand their skill sets into stuff, like the podcasts seen on, that they’re interested in. But they also get to critique each other’s work, offer suggestions and encouragement and just creatively connect with other kids — mentoring, of a sort, that adult guides monitor to make sure the site remains safe “for fearless geeks” of all sorts.  Getting involved is as simple as downloading the app and creating a kid profile.

With National Mentoring Month coming up in January, keep an eye on for more mentoring opportunities that might arise through our many programs and content sponsors. Tune in to Ruben and Jason’s story on to see how much it can mean to one young man or woman to just have an adult ear to listen and to have someone who cares. And how much it can mean to a mentor to make a difference in someone’s life.

There is no better use of your time. And it’s always a good time to improve our city, one kid at a time.

Related: Discover how Make-a-Wish transforms and makes life better for kids with  critical illnesses


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