“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

January is National Mentoring Month. In the for-profit space, finding a mentor is always the first piece advice people give. Someone to mold your career, to make potential life-changing introductions, and share advice from their hard earned lessons.

But mentorship is equally important in the humanitarian sector. In fact, many different organizations across multiple disciplines focus on mentoring programs as key force in creating long lasting change.

And we are just scratching the surface of the benefits a healthy mentor relationship can have. According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, youth who are paired with a mentor and/or positive role model are:


  • 55% more likely to enroll in college
  • 78% more likely to volunteer
  • 46% less likely then their peers to start using illegal drugs
  • 27% less likely to start drinking
  • Recent data even suggests that every dollar invested in quality youth mentoring programs yields a $3 return in benefits to society


And the positive impact mentors have is not limited to at risk youth. The benefits of mentor programs apply to kids dealing with a loved one diagnosed with cancer, sex trafficking survivors rebuilding a new life, small villages working to become autonomous, camps for kids with special needs, and farming communities working to provide for themselves and their community. Every day, people are making a difference simply by sharing their time and advice.

Walk With Sally

Walk With Sally is an organization paring adults who have experienced the devastating effects of watching a loved one battle cancer with a child currently enduring the hardship that comes when a loved battles the disease.
Cheyenne and Cyndi were paired by the Walk With Sally team to help Cheyenne navigate this difficult time in her life. For Cheyenne, Cyndi’s loving and kindhearted presence comforted Cheyenne and assured her that Cyndi was truly someone with her best interest in mind. As Cyndi and Cheyenne grew closer through bonding experiences like ropes courses, Walk With Sally’s infamous Bowl-A-Thon, and other trust exercises, Cyndi also helped Cheyenne learn to trust herself during these difficult times. With Cyndi by her side, assuring her that life outside the conform zone is safe, Cheyenne has developed the confidence to know she can survive anything life brings.

Two Wings:

Two Wings is dedicated to helping survivors of sex trafficking start the next chapter of their lives with the best chance of success. As part of their mission to help these survivors dream again, they’ve created a job development academy. The academy is over the course of twelve weeks and covers a range of topics, including financial planning, cover letter/ resume building, mock interviews, writing workshops, sexual harassment in the workplace, yoga, art class, self defense, nutrition and many others, all taught by people who have donated their time to better the life of someone else. As part of the program, each participant receives a six week internship and an opportunity to interview for employment with partner companies at the end of the program.
One of the unique aspects of the academy is their partnership with Dwelle Collaborative, who provide Occupational Therapists to work one on one and mentor each Academy participant from internship through six months into each survivor’s employment. The goal is to not only prepare participants for employment, but to also make sure the employers hiring each survivor are prepared by facilitating an Employer Sensitivity Training.

Grow Appalachia:

Grow Appalachia, founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria, focuses on helping Appalachian families grow as much of their own food as possible through logistical + technical support, education, providing tools/other resources, building relationships between site coordinators + participants and participants +participants. Since 2009, Grow Appalachia has helped families grow more than 2 million pounds of organically grown produce.

Grow Appalachia partner, Appalachian Sustainable Development, is making tangible impact through working with special needs high school students. Michelle, a recently hired garden assistant, has witnessed first-hand the sheer influence of positive behavior and role models.

“One of my favorite groups to work with is the Abingdon High School Special Needs Class. I never thought about what happens when these young people with special needs graduate from high school. A few will go on to college and get jobs, but some will simply stay home due to their limitations, essentially becoming prisoners. Deni [Appalachian Sustainable Development site coordinator] has crafted a program that promotes growth beyond the classroom not only mentally, but physically as well. Gardening gives these children the opportunity to discover their own talents that would otherwise remain hidden in a traditional classroom. This program also allows the students to go to the Farmers Market and sell the produce they harvest on Tuesday mornings to raise money for the Special Olympics and educational support for the program; all while learning to interact with the general public, learning to count money, and learning to make change…When these students graduate from high school, most will be able to manage a garden of their own and reap the benefits of a harvest, but all of them will leave with a greater awareness of their own abilities and a greater sense of pride. I am excited to see what good things unfold for our students and their families!”

Surge For Water:

As part of their program, Surge For Water goes into a community and works with locals to resolve their own water and sanitation issues. They prioritized working with and involving the entire community in a mentor-type relationship, rather than coming in and simply building everything themselves. The Surge team believes that in order to make a significant, transformational difference, they must gain deep insight to the inner workings of each community, allowing them to more clearly understand the issues and work with community members to find the right sustainable water and sanitation solutions. Given their projects are community-driven, the locals have a significant stake throughout the process. This ownership and the relationships that are fostered are important elements to ensuring the success of their programs.

PALS Program:

Mentor and PALS Programs coach Taylor Singmaster takes a very active role in the PALS Community, working to not only raise funds to cover camp costs, but spreading their message of love and acceptance through creative messaging, like the “Congratulations Project.” Her life has been profoundly influenced through her time spent as a mentor.
“My life has been influenced so deeply by many amazing mentors – coaches, bosses, horses, friends, family. Mentors come in so many sizes, shapes, forms and surprising places. When I joined PALS Programs in 2014, I assumed both the role of mentee and mentor. As a nonprofit camp for young adults with Down syndrome, we are very proud of our peer-to-peer model. This means that we do not consider our counselors and volunteers as mentors. We are all friends, peers, and equals – paired one-to-one. One of us in the pair just happens to have Down syndrome. There is, however, a certain element of responsibility as a counselor/volunteer and in this role I had an amazing opportunity to impact the life of someone in the disability community. But like I said, mentors come in unexpected places…
….AnnaRose Rubright came into my life New Years Eve 2014-15. A tiny blonde with the biggest blue eyes you’ve ever seen. In a few short days Anna taught me truly what it means to be a friend, how to enjoy every second of life, and the longer I know her, the more I learn about unconditional determination. Anna has Down syndrome, an extra copy of her 21st chromosome that holds so many assumptions and stereotypes. Many would think it would have been part of my role to mentor her, but our friendship has proved quite the opposite. It’s AnnaRose and the people in this community that have made an immeasurable impact on my life. It’s her, extra chromosome or not, who has been MY greatest mentor.”