Boston Short Course

Strengthening quality to broaden impact

On 4 / 5 October 2017, an International Short Course was offered on mentoring in Boston, organized by the European and UMass / MENTOR Centers for Evidence-Based Mentoring and the Massachusetts Mentoring Partnership. The Short Course was led by prof. Jean Rhodes and mr Marty Martinez.

Youth mentoring is growing rapidly in the U.S., Europe and across the globe. Practitioners experience a tension between quality and quantity, which needn't be the case if programmes follow evidence-based practice and learn from best practices. The Short Course offered the chance to meet leading experts from the U.S. and Europe to discuss programme models as well as challenges and rewards of adhering to best practices in ways that advances the lives of people. The two-day event offered the chance to gain knowledge about the main topic of the event: Strengthening quality to broaden impact.
Practitioners and researchers brought their expertise in all fields of mentoring, such as recruitment tools, marketing for growth and expension, match support, family engagement and more. During the event, scholars talked about a variety of new innovations in the field, like mentoring and prevention science, cultural competences and the integration of youth initiated mentoring in education.
Special feature of the event was the ongoing exchange of the European and U.S. approach in mentoring in methodology as well as organization.

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During the Short Course, expert practitioners presented their best practice. Participants learnt how to enhance empowering relationships to promote positive outcomes for youth. This happened through hands-on and intensive full day series of workshops. 
The short course programmatic training series provided staff the opportunity to engage in honest conversations about pressing topics in the mentoring and youth development field, such as: cultural responsiveness, trauma informed practices and quality-based standards.

These sessions connected on the ground learning with training on best practices to promote use of research-based standards in mentoring and youth development programming. Days included dialogue and training on:
* Motivating and training mentors for outcome-based relationships
* Working across difference: Building Cultural Competency in your program
* Meeting youth where they are; The Culture of Young People
* Building Developmental Relationships at all Levels of Your Program
On the second day of the Short Course, participants learnt about the latest research in the field, including talks by researchers : prof. Jean Rhodes, professors Tim Cavell, Belle Liang, Janis Kupersmidt, Sarah Schwartz, and Geert Jan Stams.

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Some conslusions of the event

The Short Course brought a wide range of new knowledge, innovations and research result to participating people.
Experts highlighted the importance of more targetted mentoring instead of 'one side fits all'. Consider the role of trusting relationships vs specific targeted support as a mentoring programme. Conclusion is: do what is needed for people and make the relationship the active ingredient. Another recommendation was to create a relationship-rich setting for your target group, instead of only one-on-one matchings.
There was much mention of the concept of natural mentoring (see presentation of dr. Sarah Schwartz) along with network engaged mentoring. A possibility for mentoring programmes is to create a hybrid model of natural and formal mentoring with cycles of support and mentors as connectors.

You can download the complete schedule of company visits and Short Course here.