BUILD at the National Mentoring Summit 2024

Written by BUILD Boston’s Director of Mentor and Community Engagement, Angela Stokes



I had the honor of attending the National Mentoring Summit convened by MENTOR January 23-26 in Washington DC. This year, I spent an extra day to participate in Capitol Hill Day which was a chance to meet with members of Congress sharing information about federal funding for mentoring. The Summit kicked off Tuesday with a training on Capitol Hill Day where members of each state gathered together to learn about the bills and discuss communication strategies and storytelling for the next day. The Massachusetts table was light with attendees so we were joined by international colleagues who had joined the conference from the Netherlands.

They ran a mentoring organization in Europe and came to the Summit to connect with Americans and learn best practices, including advocacy, program design and training. Connecting with international mentoring folks was an unexpected treat! They joined us for all our MA meetings the following day and we learned from each other. 

Capitol Hill Day kicked off with an inspiring speaking program which included the first Black mayor of Milwaukee, a huge proponent of mentoring, and a young woman who grew up in foster care who shared the impact mentors had on her throughout her life. A quote she said that stuck with me was, “mentoring should not be a privilege for the lucky but a mandate for the vulnerable.” 

 

With that and our marching orders, our team went on our way to the impressive buildings with endless marble floors in Capitol Hill. First, we met with the staff of Rep. Ayanna Pressley. A huge advocate for mentoring and betterment of Boston communities, she is also known as “The People’s Congresswoman.”

 

Viewing the plaque on her desk that said that and photos of Shirley Chisholm on the wall made it easy to talk to her staff about continued funding for mentoring.

One of the main points we brought into all meetings was the need to close the “mentoring gap.” That means that 1 in 3 people under the age of 19 grow up without a mentor. We advocated for the following: (source here: https://www.mentoring.org/legislation/ )

  • Foster Youth Mentoring Act (needed funding for youth in current and/or foster care),
  • Mentoring to Succeed Act and Transition to Success Mentoring Act (special focus on school-based mentoring programs),
  • Youth Workforce Readiness Act (focuses on skill development, career exposure and work-based learning)

Staff were welcoming in both Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey’s offices who both have already signed “Dear Colleague” letters to other members of Congress asking them for continued support as well. The whole day was extremely well put together by MENTOR who armed us with the tools to succeed and it felt important to be able to tell stories about BUILD students. Capitol Hill Day was only the beginning of the Summit too! There were still two more information and fun-filled days to come.

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