Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest received a $350,000 grant in January to fund its GoodGuides youth mentoring program.
It’s the second time Goodwill received this grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention. The GoodGuides program matches small groups of young people, ages 12 to 17, with business leaders who mentor the youths for 12 months.
“We have room for 120 youth through September 2016,” said Sherri Richardson, GoodGuides Program manager. “We start the first programming in May at Centennial Middle School and then in fall at West Valley High School.”
Youths are referred to the program by school counselors and community organizations.
“It’s pretty easy to fill those spots,” said Richardson.
GoodGuides puts together after-school programming, including tours of various businesses and homework help, career training and other activities.
Right now, she’s especially searching for mentors and tour offers from manufacturing companies in and around Spokane.
“I think it would be interesting to see how things are made,” Richardson said.
Mentors spend four hours a month for a year with a group of four youths.
Mentors must pass a background screening and go through an application process with Goodwill.
Once approved, the mentor is expected to provide career advice as well as basic life skills education. There are preplanned activities, but plans are fluid.
“They may drop everything to talk about what happened to one of the youth in school,” Richardson said.
A good mentor is someone who’s established, Richardson said, but not necessarily an older person.
“We have had some young business leaders who overcame big obstacles in school and life,” Richardson said. “It was extremely helpful that they were able to share that.”