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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Mentoring Network Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Community Improvement & Capacity Building, Human Services, Youth Development

Mission: The Mission of The Mentoring Network, Inc. is to provide school-based, direct-to-youth mentoring that will improve life outcomes for vulnerable and disengaged children by developing resilience skills, supporting the development of personal strengths, and increasing self-sufficiency.

Results: 77% of the kids who are being actively mentored show improvement in behavior. 85% become more caring. 86% grow in friendship building skills. 73% of our actively mentored kids improve their grades. Each of these helps create a better future for both the child and the world. “Mentoring has shown me that younger kids look up to adults for guidance. This program has made me realize that if we don't show the younger generation what it means to work than they won't have all the skills that we had to learn when we were young. I also have learned that for some kids, life and school are harder for them than others, and by being a mentor I can show that child that someone cares enough to help them through the tough times.” –Mentor—2 years in the program

Target demographics: The MN works with rural, school referred, at-risk students, grades 1-8 and continuing through high school with MN students that choose to.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 154+ youth first grade through high school

Geographic areas served: The MN currently serves five school districts in Idaho: Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, Homedale, and Vallivue.

Programs: Since 1999, The Mentoring Network, Inc. has offered school-based mentoring to rural, school referred, at-risk students, grades 1-8 and continuing through high school with MN students that choose to. The MN currently serves five school districts; Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, Homedale, and Vallivue.

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Tami V.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mentoring Network first came to my attention approximately 16 years ago when I was teaching 3rd grade. There was a young man in my classroom who was in need of a strong male role model. The Mentoring Network paired him up with Ray Bennett, a mentor who stood by this young man into adulthood. I truly believe that the connection with a loving adult who truly cared has helped this young man to become a productive citizen. Ray has passed on now, but I know that the impact he had was lasting as I am still in contact with this young man.

This is just one of many stories I could share about the impact of mentors for the students in my classes and my school. For the past five years, I have been the administrator of the at the same school where I taught. Donna Shines and The Mentoring Network are the first place I turn when I see a student who just needs a positive adult role model in their lives.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked with Donna Shines and the Mentoring Network for approximately 15 years. I first became acquainted with this fantastic program as a classroom teacher and, as an administrator, I recognize the valuable service this organization provides for my students. It started with a young man in my classroom who needed a positive male role model in his life. His mentor stayed with him through high school and into the armed services. I am still in regular contact with this young man, and he attributes much of his success to his mentor, Ray. Throughout my career in education, I've witnessed the powerful transformation of many students who have been able to form bonds with mentoring adults. One student who has bounced from foster home to foster home struggled to form relationships. It took his mentor well over a year to convince him she was not going anywhere and no one was paying her to visit him. Having someone that shows up every week just for him, has given him confidence and strength to handle all the difficult situations that are beyond his control. I could share several stories about this wonderful organization that matches at-risk students with caring adults to form life-long friendships which can be the cornerstone of healthy productive lives. I encourage everyone to join with The Mentoring Network in any capacity whether it be financial support or volunteering time. Together we can make a difference in the lives of children.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I spent 41 years in the nonprofit world, the last 32 as the CEO for two YMCA's. I have known Donna Shines for 40 years. Over those years I have seen and worked with many nonprofits and lots of leaders of nonprofits. The Mentoring Network and Donna Shines are the best of the best. The Mentoring Network has managed to avoid the bureaucracy that seems to creep into many organizations as they grow. This allows all of the energy to go into connecting adult role model with kids who need another caring adult in their lives. I currently work at the College of Idaho and have several student volunteering with the Mentoring Network. While this is clearly great for the children they mentor, it is equally good for these college students. They love their kids and share great stories with me. They also know and love Donna. Often CEO's are far removed from the action. Not Donna; she finds time to get to know and mentor each one of her volunteers too. She also does so much great work in the community and is a sought after speaker and an important and value adding member of any team working to improve the community for all. Donna is as beloved a leader as anyone I know. She has people she worked with 4 decades ago that she has stayed in touch with and who would call her their best life coach ever.
The Mentoring Network does very important work and they do it as well and efficiently as any organization I know. Donna is a community treasure.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a mentor for the Mentoring Network for the past 4 years. The leadership at the Mentoring Network is dedicated to improving the lives of the at-risk children in our communities. As I have shown up each week to bring encouragement and love to my kids that I mentor, I have personally seen the changes in their lives. I am very thankful for the opportunity to mentor that is provided by the Mentoring Network.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have worked closely with the Mentoring Network and Donna Shines. I cannot speak highly enough of the amazing work that is taking place within our community. It is because of people taking time to mentor that we will begin to see less kids drop-out of school, participate in illegal activities. The kids will know their self-worth and understand they are loved beyond measure. So happy to have the Mentoring Network in our community!

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an elementary principal I had the pleasure of seeing what a positive impact mentoring can have for our most at risk children. The Mentoring Network finds and trains amazing mentors. These mentors are committed to making a difference in the life of a child. It is a compassionate and caring non profit that gets visible results. These caring adults follow our transient students as they move through the valley to different elementary schools and really show they are committed to supporting kids.

5

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mentoring Network honors and catalyzes the power of relationships. This is a high-impact, low-resource, replicatable and proven model that offers a life-changing-positive-impact way of being together for both the mentor and mentee. The ripple effect of what The Mentoring Network makes possible is felt throughout the community. What will it take for every community member to feel valued, seen, heard and a deep sense of belonging? The Mentoring Network strives to achieve that vision through deep community engagement as a way of being together, not something we do as an activity.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mentoring Network is a non-profit organization that is more than just a place to feel good because you helped someone. The children that get matched with Mentors, don't just gain another adult in their life. They receive a friend who is committed to giving them a listening ear and a person to cheer them on with their dreams. I train, work and assist Mentor's within my program and those who help with the Mentoring Network have impressed me. I am very thankful for the help they bring daily to the children in our area and how much they continue to strive for what is possible no matter what roadblocks may seem to exist. Truly a class-A group and non-profit.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am the school counselor at an elementary school with many students who might be categorized as "at-risk." The Mentors that my students receive through the Mentor Network spend their own time to make sure that my students feel special. I can't say enough how the Mentors have impacted the students. I love seeing the difference after a new match is made, the student truly blossoms. It is amazing what an hour of one-on-one time a week can really do to brighten a child's life.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a counselor at a small school with a large percentage of low income families, I can easily say that the Mentoring Network is an invaluable resource for us. The mentors who come to us trained by the Mentoring Network are committed, reliable, loving and so generous toward our students. They spend countless personal hours and significant financial resources to simply show our kids that they are cared about. I have heard adult children who were mentored in the past speak about how their lives were impacted by their mentor. It is very apparent that mentors change lives and those changed lives go on to change others. There are very few individuals as committed to children as those who volunteer for the Mentoring Network. I cannot speak highly enough of this program!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mentoring Network worked with one of my at risk students. Our mentor was a great role model, dependable and used her own money to help provide experiences for this student. I highly recommend this group! It was an amazing and positive experience.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am the principal of a local high school. We have several students who have participated in mentoring through the mentoring network. Mentoring Network is life saving for these students. Frequently, after they leave school these students have no adult role models with whom they can connect. Mentoring Network provides that for them.

Deborah97

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mentoring Network Inc. is a school-based mentoring program that matches a caring adult with an at-risk kid (identified as such by their counselor or teacher) during the school day and on-site at school. Adults are from all walks of life, background screened, and masterfully matched to their mentees. This program boasts the stellar record of not one of these at-risk kids dropping out of school or becoming involved with law enforcement while participating in the program. Hundreds of lives have benefited over the past decade from the work of The Mentoring Network Inc. As a professional psychotherapist, I see how the therapeutic relationship is powerful. This non-profit at a margin of the cost of professional services accomplishes much to help the community.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a State Teacher of the Year for Idaho. I have been involved with the Mentoring Network on several levels over the years. This is an amazing organization that runs on a shoestring for what they provide. The love, caring and compassion with which they give themselves to kids is nearly unequaled. Not only are many children the beneficiaries of all they offer, but the mentors that work with the kids have been hand picked as to make sure everyone is given a chance to succeed. The Mentoring Network is one of the unsung heroes as far as organizations that cater to kids. Experiences and lots of TLC are given to help kids build self esteem, character and personal growth, so that they will have the opportunity to live productive lives. Kudos to the Mentoring Network.

Molly19

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked with The Mentoring Network for six years as a school counselor. The Mentoring Network provided us with top-notch mentors who met with several of our students on a consistent, weekly basis. I was always impressed with the quality of the mentors in The Mentoring Network. All of them were highly-regarded, caring individuals who had a soft spot in their hearts for kids. What most impressed me of The Mentoring Network mentors is their consistent caring. I have worked with other mentors before who showed up inconsistently. That was not the case with The Mentoring Network mentors. They showed up every week, regardless of what was going on in their own lives, and they often brought an interesting activity to share with their mentee. I saw mentors and mentees make holiday cards, play board games, and share books together. The activities provided a route for the mentors and mentees to connect. I would often see them laughing and talking together as they worked together. Also, The Mentoring Network mentees would continue their students for years. That sense of continuity and consistency gave my students a feeling a connectedness that they so desperately needed. The Mentoring Network fills a huge need in our community and it is an organization that I trust and respect to always do what's best for kids!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of facilitating a mentoring relationship with students at my school. As a school counselor, I frequently receive information about students' lives and the impact of their circumstances on their academic performance and general well-being. The students at my school who have been in mentoring relationships through The Mentoring Network transform from sullen to smiling. One teacher remarked, "I wish I had 30 of him" (of the mentor) because she was so impressed with the impact on her student and the benefits mentors could provide to her entire class. This mentor proved his dedication by continuing a mentoring relationship through letters when the student moved to another part of the state. The mentors receive an excellent orientation prior to beginning and I am impressed by the organization, opportunities for summer camp, and data from The Network. I have to agree with the teacher quoted above--I wish we had many more mentors available.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Mentoring Network is a meaningful program which helps kids experience genuine kindness and acceptance.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a counselor in the Nampa School District, and have seen amazing things come from the Mentoring Network! The mentors that they set up with our students are truely making a difference in these kids lives.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work as an elementary school counselor in the Nampa School District. I have seen mentors from the Mentoring Network change lives and help put kids back on a positive track. Sometimes a student's needs are truly overwhelming, and yet, one person in their lives can and does make a huge difference. That student now has a caring person to help direct them, dialogue with them, and give the valuable feedback for their decision-making and choices, where they may go unchecked before. This one person walking into their lives can help foster a relationship of support and positive rapport that generates encouragement for a child like non other. A student often needs that one person who is not an authority figure, who helps draw the safe and healthy boundaries that lead a student down the road of success. Mentors do all that, and more!! Thanks to the Mentoring Network for helping youth in a big way.

Scott45

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a school counselor and have had several kids mentored by your fine people. All of the kids have had a very positive experience. On my end you have been a pleasure to work with also.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm a school counselor in the Nampa School District, one of the districts served by the Mentoring Network. I have seen firsthand the significant positive impacts this program has for youth who need, more than anything else, a committed positive adult in their lives. I have many things I can offer to kids: groups, individual work with me, incentive programs, assistance with coping. But for kids in certain circumstances, those things cannot substitute for the committment of another human being who says, with their weekly attendance and consistency, "you are worth my time". Many of these children have never had a person make this kind of promise to them and they've never had someone's undivided attention for a whole hour, simply because someone chooses to give it. I've seen a child's life path altered, for the better, over and over, and unbelievably quickly. Sending a message to a child like, "Simply because I care for you, I will spend my time with you every week. I will be here for you. You will be able to count on me, because I will keep my promise." That changes people in a profound way. Hearts change. Approaches to life change. Belief in others changes. Trust and hope begin to blossom. Solutions are found. Grades improve. Behavior improves. I had one child who could always name at least 3 people whose fault it was that his homework wasn't done, that he'd punched someone, that he'd cursed on the playground, etc. After 3 months of mentoring, his attitude improved and he began to say things like, "I know my grades are low. I didn't turn in my assignments. That's my fault." His whole life will be different because he is now taking responsiblity for his decisions. He will grow to be a different man. The differences seem small at first, but they are huge in terms of life trajectory. Mentoring Network makes these things possible. It is an organization run with great integrity and a heart for changing the world, one child at a time.