General Questions

What is the cost of mentoring?

Nothing. It doesn’t cost anything to become a part of Mentor Duluth, although some mentors do chose to spend their own money on activities. However, we highly recommend that mentors chose free or low cost activities throughout the community.

What is the monthly time commitment?

We require that you get together for at least 8-12 hours per month. This amount of time is the essential amount for a strong bond and relationship to grow and thrive.

What is the overall commitment?

We ask that mentors stay matched with their mentee for at least 1 calendar year in order to create the strong and beneficial bond. Please understand that the matching process can last up to 2-3 months in order to ensure the perfect match.

What are the benefits to mentoring?

There are an unlimited amount of benefits to becoming a mentor. Along with becoming a role model for child who may really need someone to look up to, you are also gaining a friend. Our mentors get just as much out of this program as our mentees.

What are examples of activities?

Throughout the community of Duluth there are many free activities that reach a wide range of ages. Some popular activities include riding bikes, taking a walk down Canal Park, doing homework, reading books, hiking, playing board games, going to sporting events, etc. You can find more options for activities under the Helpful Links tab & then Activities Pass.

Questions Asked by Mentors:

Anytime a question comes up during your mentoring experience, do not hesitate to contact your Program Advocate

My mentee has asked to bring a friend along with us. What do I tell her/him?

The focus of a mentoring relationship should be one-on-one. Bringing additional children along takes the focus and attention off of your mentee. Additionally, only your mentee is covered by Mentor Duluth insurance. If you choose to bring along another child you need to be aware of the fact that you are fully responsible and liable for the child’s welfare and safety.

How about a sibling?

While a sibling enrolled in the program would be covered by Mentor Duluth liability insurance, we still do not encourage bringing siblings along on outings. A mentor’s role is not to serve as a babysitter for the family and the focus of the relationship should be between the mentor and child. If you need assistance enforcing this rule with your mentee or his/her family, contact your program advocate. In addition, the parent(s) have signed the match agreement which states that you will be in contact with the one child from this family.

Can I bring a friend, family member, spouse or significant other along?

Again, the focus of mentoring is a one-on-one relationship with a child. It is likely that your mentee with develop a relationship with people around you and it is okay to bring others along on occasional outings. We recommend that including others would be the exception rather than the norm.

What do I do if the parent is not home when I go to drop off my mentee?

Discuss an alternate plan ahead of time with the parent(s) and follow that plan.

If no plan has been made, see if there is another safe place that the child can be dropped off and leave a note for the parent. If your match card has an emergency contact number on it call to see if the person listed is able to assist you.

Wait a bit to see if the parent returns.

Bring child back to your home and continue to try to reach parent by phone.

If you can no longer keep your mentee, check to see if the child is old enough, by law, to be left on their own (call your Program Advocate or the YMCA if in doubt). If they are old enough then decide if they are self-sufficient and comfortable enough to handle being left alone and that the absence is likely to be short in duration before leaving them.

If your mentee is old enough, then make sure they are able to get into the house before leaving and leave a message for the parent(s) on their phone or with the child.

If your mentee is too young to be left on their own and you have exhausted all other options then bring him or her to the police station and they will attempt to locate parent(s) or eventually bring the child to Bethany Crisis Shelter.

Call your PA if assistance is needed!

Talk to your program advocate if problem continues.

My mentee never calls me or initiates activities. What should I do?

First of all, remember that your mentee is younger than you and probably has less experience initiating plans, especially with adults. Have a conversation about it and try to help your mentee understand that it’s ok for him/her to call you when they want to get together or have activity ideas. Be patient and remember that it will likely take some time for your mentee to feel completely comfortable calling you.

What do I do if my mentee moves or phone is disconnected?

Talk to your program advocate to see if he/she has a new number. If your advocate does not have a new number, she/he may be able to assist in tracking one down.

If comfortable, stop by the mentee’s house to reconnect with the family or send a note through the mail.

My mentee is missing school and his/her grades are suffering, what should I do?

It is not a mentor’s job to make sure their mentee is attending and/or succeeding in school. That is the role of parents and teachers. Try to find out if there are underlying issues affecting school and discuss those if your mentee is willing.

Are there specific guidelines for giving gifts to my mentee?

It is fine to give your mentee a small gift for his or her birthday or a holiday but a mentoring relationship should not be about getting cool stuff from the mentor or even doing expensive activities all of the time. Try to keep gifts simple, meaningful and fairly inexpensive. Refrain from giving your mentee a gift that his or her parents could not afford.

My mentee (or their parent) has asked me to loan him (her) money. What should I do?

If your mentee or a member of your mentees family asks you to loan him or her money, state gently but firmly that you are not able to do so as Mentor Duluth has a policy against it. It is not the role of a mentor to save families from financial difficulties. If they have a specific need or reason for needing the money, refer them to your Program Advocate who may be able to direct them to appropriate community agencies.

My mentee asks me to buy her/him something most of the time when we are together. Sometimes I do but I do not want this to become a habit. What do I do?

The relationship you are building with your mentee is about mutual respect, good communication and learning about each other’s’ boundaries. It is not about how much you spend on them. It is appropriate and important that as a mentor you set up boundaries you are comfortable with carrying out. It is okay to say no or set limits on what you are willing to spend money on.