The heart of YES is Mentoring Partnerships, a community-based program that incorporates academic and workforce exposure, peer mentor certification training, life skills development, cultural and social enrichment, and wellness initiatives to address at-risk behavior among adolescents. The mentoring concept is central to our organization’s philosophy of improved physical, emotional, and academic development.
YES’ Mentoring Partnerships is designed to function as the house for all efforts at YES outside of our Diversion and Restorative Practice Programming. The goal of the Mentoring Partnerships is to provide students with examples of and time to practice skills that lead to healthy minds and bodies, self-sufficiency, civic responsibility, and community belonging. Simply put, we want to empower students and families to be their own best resources and see meaningful futures for themselves in Pittsburgh and beyond.
At YES, we believe that this vision is best achieved through empowering students academically, socially, financially, and physically through mentorship, leadership development, career enhancement, and cultural enrichment that is both historically-rooted and expansively future-focused.
Mentoring Partnerships Criteria
Students who are:
Ages 14 – 21
Attending Pittsburgh Public schools or schools in surrounding districts
Residing in Pittsburgh or surrounding Pittsburgh communities
Peer to Peer
One-to-one mentoring between two high school peers.
Near-Peer to Peer
One-to-one mentoring between college-aged peers supporting younger students.
Staff to Family
Staff mentoring families by helping them access resources, navigate challenges, and gain financial literacy.
Staff to Staff
Veteran staff and leadership mentoring incoming personnel.
Staff to Student
Group mentoring or one-to-one mentoring that occurs between staff and enrolled students.
YES employs a mentorship model with four concentric circles that, in accordance with the science of motivation, gradually lead inward. That is, each inner circle symbolizes the progressive internalization of motivational regulation. YES operationalizes this motivational model through a program of strengths-based mentorship that focuses on “the identification, exploration, and use of strengths in children and youth to foster positive mental health outcomes at school, at home and in the community” (Alberta 2).
Strengths-based mentorship centralizes students’ psychological needs, the very needs most overlooked by the education system. Through strengths-based mentoring, YES helps students extend their preexisting assets by exposing them to new opportunities related to employment, academics, leadership development, community engagement, and recreation. Students see their competence, especially their ability to face and overcome challenges, and grow through these experiences.
1. Holistic Nourishment—Following the motto, “No throw-away kids,” YES supports students’ physical, emotional, and psychological needs. In this way, a strong, family-like atmosphere emerges that builds trust between students and staff. This foundation of trust encourages students to engage the process more enthusiastically over time.
2. Asset Nurturing and Capacity Building—YES recognizes that its students have many assets and resources, so rather than remediating deficits, the goal is to expose students to new opportunities, which helps them build on their strengths and leverage their assets into professional, academic, social, and cultural capital.
3. Autonomy and Excellence—YES cultivates student autonomy to pursue projects that are both personally meaningful and intellectually rigorous, which further cultivates the internalization of motivation.
4. Advocacy and Empowerment—At the innermost circle, YES students become their own advocates for change in their communities. Driven by a sense of purpose, students are empowered to fight the opportunity gap and work toward a more equal, just society.
NATIONAL QUALITY MENTORING SYSTEM
YES recently completed the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) process. The NQMS evaluates our programs to ensure that they are in alignment with the Elements of Effective Practice and other research-based best practices. The NQMS creates recognized standards and procedures for the operation of high-quality mentoring programs based on evidence and guidelines for continuous improvement within a program.