Mentoring Opens Up Doors of Opportunity

October 4, 2018

It was no surprise to us when our newly launched Mentor Match program took off like gangbusters in 2016. Right away, we saw how offering low-resourced youth the opportunity to meet regularly with a role model working in a field that piqued their interest could be a gateway to transformation … for both mentor and mentee.

What we knew before launching Mentor Match was that mentoring nurtures positive youth development – youth are more likely to succeed in life and avoid risky behaviors when supported by a caring adult. What we didn’t realize was that high-risk youth – or youth with barriers to achieving economic and social mobility – can benefit profoundly from formal and informal mentoring.

According to The Mentoring Effect, a study completed in 2014 by MENTOR, The National Mentoring Partnership, at-risk youth with mentors are:

  • 130% more likely to hold a leadership position in a club, school council,
    sports team, or other group
  • 81% more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activities
  • 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
  • 55% more likely to enroll in college

Wow, and yes, we’re on the right track with Mentor Match! Mentor Match is a component of our High School Enrichment Program, which supports high school students as they navigate their post-high school college and career paths. Funded by The Angell Foundation and Cathay Bank, students select their level of participation in a variety of interesting activities – teaching assistantships, summer internships, leadership team – that fit with busy schedules.

Mentor Match partners youth with arts professionals. Mentors coordinate monthly conversations and real-life experiences with their mentees about their post-high school educational/career options as well as steps to achieve their career goals. They also coach students on college application personal statements.

We’re delighted to share with you the experiences from one of our mentor/mentee teams, Melinda Sullivan and Nadine Aguirre, who both reaped significant benefits from their partnership. Here’s what Mentor Melinda had to say:

Becoming a mentor to Nadine & Zuleny through everybody dance!  was an incredible opportunity. I had been an everybody dance!  Teaching Artist in the past, but this was a cool way to work with the students differently and more intimately. The girls and I would meet about once a month, and mostly in the studio, as they shared with me in the first meeting that they wanted to get stronger as tap dancers. They pushed themselves to grow technically and as improvisers. I was so impressed with their level of dedication to their dreams, while still keeping up their busy schedules. I was able to invite Nadine to several dance workshops, and was happy to assist in other tap opportunities, for instance working with Chloe and Maud Arnold’s youth company. I personally will never forget the mentorship I had from professional artists when I was in high school, and hope that the Nadine and Zuleny will take with them what still impacts me today: belief in myself, my art, and in positive relationships. I look forward to being in their lives as a resource and a cheerleader!

Mentee Nadine said this:

Becoming a mentee to Melinda Sullivan gave me many opportunities to explore dance through someone else’s point of view, especially someone who has been successful with dance. It was an amazing experience to create a bond with Melinda and get closer with Zuleny by going outside of everybody dance! and meeting up in new places. I experienced many opportunities given to me by Melinda, for example taking private tap classes with her which was an advantage to improve my tap dancing and my musicality. I also received a scholarship with the help of Melinda to join a youth tap company called Sole Talk that was led by Chloe and Maud Arnold. I will take all the skills and advice Melinda gave me throughout this process and keep them inside my mind and heart.

Your life experiences can transform a young life! Learn more about mentoring at And if you’re interested in becoming an arts mentor with us, visit, scroll down and type “Mentor Match” in the message section!

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