More than 700 people involved in mentoring programs, research, and support organizations recently connected for an enlightening two days of networking and workshops.  The 2014 National Mentoring Summit provided a unique opportunity for mentoring programs and staff to learn powerful ways to integrate best practices and the latest research into the mentoring field.

Mentoring Works. The theme of the Summit held in Arlington, VA on January 30 and 31 focused on the importance of evidence-based quality mentoring relationships.  The conference’s numerous workshops and plenary sessions reinforced that theme, with distinguished speakers, dynamic panel discussions and various networking opportunities highlighting the evidence that supports the numerous ways in which mentoring works to support positive youth outcomes.

This signature event for the national mentoring movement combined practitioners, researchers, corporate partners, government and civic leaders, national youth-serving organizations and the network of Mentoring Partnerships in an explosive forum that explored and advanced mentoring’s positive impact on individuals and communities.  It provided an inclusive platform for those passionate about mentoring to share innovative program models, examine new research, project future developments in the field and fundamentally ensure that more youth receive quality mentoring throughout the U.S.

It was exceptionally gratifying to observe the delightful interactions of the young men who represented the Concerned Black Men, a national organization whose mission is “to provide guidance, support and encouragement to children while stabilizing families through three service divisions: youth and prevention services, parent and family services, and volunteer and mentoring services.”

The young protégés of this organization, clad in crisp white shirts and red neckties, provided a valuable service as they assisted attendees, politely answering questions, and steering the crowd in the right direction between sessions.  I have to say, if these young leaders are the result of evidence-based quality mentoring relations, then the Summit’s theme was “spot on.”

Kudos to the nationally acclaimed Dr. Jean Rhodes and the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts-Boston for hosting a day-long short course prior to Summit.  Mentoring in the Digital Age offered an outlet for the development of ethical guidelines for the use of social media by mentoring programs.

Attendees had the flexibility to attend the Summit in-person via selected workshops or online via a live streaming option. Regardless of the format, the 2014 NMS was a much-needed investment in quality youth mentoring.

The staff of Mentoring Central is excited about participating in next year’s Summit and look forward to seeing you there!