Staff Spotlight: MPM’s Director of Program Services, Carolyn Scherer

Staff Spotlight

If you have completed an NMRC project lately, you have likely benefited from the wealth of knowledge Carolyn Scherer, MPM’s Director of Program Services, brings on the topic of quality mentoring practices. This Staff Spotlight gets to know our newest staff member here at MPM: her work, her inspirations, and what she sees next for the field.

Carolyn directs our Program Services department – that means any of the initiatives we do that directly work with and benefit mentoring programs across the state, including QMAP, training, and consultation. She loves working directly with programs and getting to witness to wide array of approaches and unique kinds of impact different organizations have on their communities. Looking forward, she is excited to create and provide even more innovative types of education, support, networking opportunities, and resources to Minnesota mentoring programs.

A social worker by trade, Carolyn has been most interested in her career in preventative interventions that have a positive impact on young people. This led her to seven years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities as Director of Customer Engagement. At BBBS, mentoring seemed like a casual concept initially, but she quickly learned that quality made an enormous difference in outcomes. There were numerous best practices within every component of the work. Learning, implementing, and now coaching on these best practices has been the cornerstone of her career in mentoring. She continually impresses upon me the need to remember quality over quantity – in her experience creating well supported, thoughtful matches over pairing together as many adults and youth as possible has the highest positive returns for mentees, mentors, and communities.

However, she also sees best practices as an area of challenge and growth for the field. How do we find the balance between implementing best practices and not getting so entrenched in procedures that we don’t see the bigger picture? How do we enact quality practices with limited staffing and resources? This is not to say she feels negative about the future. She has been continually inspired by the many programs doing amazing work on behalf of kids and the stream of innovation in the field – researchers and practitioners continually innovate to better meet the needs of young people. Especially exciting to her is the expanding conversation about incorporating youth voice into mentoring in a variety of ways.

Mentoring can take place in many forms and she also hopes to continue to spread the conversation and knowledge of informal mentoring. Volunteering at a mentoring program isn’t for everyone or isn’t always right based on what else is going on in a volunteer’s life. Carolyn herself has two young children and doesn’t have the capacity currently to be a formal mentor, but instead looks for ways to make a positive impact on youth in the community in more informal ways. We should all be spreading the message about the powerful positive affects mentoring a child can have on young people and mentors themselves, no matter the setting.

When she isn’t at MPM, Carolyn loves spending time with her two kids and husband, especially outside. She enjoys running, cooking, arts and crafts, and working on the house. Next time you see her make sure to say hello!

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Mentoring in the News: Children and Youth Issues Briefing

Mentoring in the News

On Thursday, February 18, three MPM staff attended the 2016 Children and Youth Issues Briefing hosted by the Start Early Funders Coalition.  The event brought together advocates, thought leaders and nonprofits from across that state to highlight the progress that has been made in the realms of early education, children and youth policy as well as legislative proposals being put forward during this year’s legislative session. The event strived to feature frank conversation about the need for racial equity to be a central tenant in education efforts.

There were several moments throughout the event where I found myself taking frantic notes…I wanted to capture and take with me the passion, the practical strategies, the challenging words, and the calls to action. There were other moments where I dropped my pen and was captivated and moved by the personal reflections and experiences of the presenters. Other instances brought frustration…at the acoustics in the room that prevented the presenters from being able to fully hear the critical thoughts and questions of audience members who spoke from mics around the room…at the overwhelming sense of how far we still have to go in this work.

I thought I’d share a few of those underlined and starred notes from my experience at the event that have particular relevance to our work in the mentoring field…they resonated with me and I hope that they do with you as well.

The event was framed by Lulete Mola, Policy & Community Engagement Manager/McKinley Fellow, Greater Twin Cities United Way, with a simple yet powerful reminder on the difference between equity and equality. She urged us to use an equity approach in how we make decisions, in our interactions with others and to keep this concept in mind throughout the discussions of the day. She presented this image that I hope to keep imprinted in my mind in my decisions and interactions:


Anthony Galloway, Student Program Lead from the West Metro Education Program moderated the panel discussion on “K-12 Education and Out of School Time: Through a Racial Equity Lens” and asked his panelists to reflect what they heard before offering their response, by saying “what I heard you say was… .” Again, a simple but often overlooked exercise that dramatically transforms our interactions with others. It acknowledges listening and ensures the message was conveyed correctly. That, in itself, is powerful. This was impactful modeling for me, something that I plan on carrying forward in my conversations.

One of the panelists in the aforementioned panel was Klever Ortiz-Sinchi, Social Studies Content Lead for Minneapolis Public Schools, who stated that we need students to help define what a good education should be…and felt that perspective could be more about relationships and less about using technology. He asserted the need to address the human needs of our students. Perhaps it’s my mentoring or social work background, but (internally) I was shouting, “YES!!!” My stars and underlines continued as he talked about how we need to give some people more opportunities because they have been taken away for a long time (a reminder that historical context matters)…and that equity is for all students, not just students at risk or students of color. Again, “YES!!!” In that same conversation, Dr. Matier, Executive Director of West Metro Education Program, stressed the need for stakeholders to understand what racial equity is, to change our perspective from deficits to strengths, and to see opportunities for system redesign where all communities participate. Another “YES!!!”

I greatly appreciated being a part of this event and conversation, and I hope to uphold these themes in my work and interactions.

I encourage you to check the Start Early  webpage for more information about the event (the PP slides, agenda and panelists).

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Quality Corner: What Does Youth-Initiated Mentoring Mean for Mentoring Programs?

Quality Corner

Only 4% of youth 8-18 had a formal mentor according to The Mentoring Effect. Most young people access mentorship through teachers, school counselors, coaches, and neighbors. Formal mentoring programs are unable to serve every child and may not reach every community equally.

During the National Mentoring Summit I attended a workshop on Youth-Initiated Mentoring which explored how mentoring programs can tap into these natural mentors and help deepen and expand the relationship with formal programming. While there are many new and innovative ways to conduct youth-initiated mentoring, much of the presentation highlighted a pilot program happening through the Midlands Mentoring Partnership in Nebraska that helps youth select and recruit an adult they know and trust to be their mentor and then matches them in a traditional, community based program.

There were many benefits to the pilot program in Nebraska. Youth liked having a mentor they felt knew and understood them and came from a common social context.  Youth and families felt more agency in selecting the best match in a mentor and had a higher understanding of the process. Mentors recruited in this way valued the opportunity to deepen their mentoring relationship with a particular young person and have more structured, quality time together. It was also an honor to be considered a mentor and be asked to further that role. Mentoring program staff found that mentors had greater commitment and investment right away and felt like there was a strong potential for a long-lasting, impactful connection.

However, this is not necessarily a “magic bullet” for mentor recruitment and program capacity issues. Onboarding youth-initated mentors still took a significant amount of staff time; programs still support and monitor the relationships as they would a traditional match. It might not be appropriate for many programs or young people. Nevertheless, I think it is worth reflection on how youth-initiated and “natural” mentoring can be incorporated into traditional program to enhance the number of caring adults in the lives of all young people your program interacts with. How can formal mentors help support their mentees in building a community of mentors in their lives? Could some form of youth-initated mentoring serve young people who are aging out of the program? Young people who are on a waiting list or may not get matched? Could this be part of a closure policy? How can all young people learn the skills to approach adults in their lives they feel a connection to and ask for the support and guidance they need?

I don’t have the answers, but I am excited to see where the field goes with this concept and the innovative program practices that emerge in the next few years.

Want to dig into the research? Check out: Youth Initiated Mentoring: Investigating a New Approach to Working with Vulnerable Adolescents and a summary of Community developmental assets and positive youth development: The role of natural mentors.

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Mentoring in the News / Staff Spotlight

Happy February!  Last week, most of the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota (MPM) staff were travelling for the National Mentoring Summit in Washington, D.C.  As a result, we are giving you two blog posts instead of one!  #score!

Mentoring in the News

As you may have heard, January was National Mentoring Month (NMM).    January is the month we (mentoring programs and partnerships) focus national attention on the need for mentors.  NMM celebrates mentoring by highlighting the positive effect it can have on youth’s lives.  This year, MENTOR launched the “Mentor in Real Life” campaign to talk about the real life benefits of mentoring–for mentors and mentees.  The messaging strategy was to position mentoring as a critical component in young people’s lives, helping them make the decisions that ultimately lead to improved opportunities, which has an impact in real life.

Here at MPM, we utilized our social media presence to share the word on “Mentor in Real Life”.  We utilized the hashtags (#MentorIRL, #NationalMentoringMonth) and saw a spike in interactions on various social media platforms.  On our Twitter account, we saw 3x as many profile visits and nearly 2x as many impressions compared to December.  We also accrued 2x as many new followers and had 1.5x as many mentions compared to other months.  (In fact, MPR News just started following us during NMM!!!)  On Facebook during the last week of NMM, we saw a 932% increase in post reach and a 44% increase in engagement!  Utilizing social media to reach a wide audience helped MPM share the great stories of mentoring happening in Minnesota.  Nationally, MENTOR received over 10,000 inquiries on the Mentoring Connector (the only national database of mentoring programs)–that’s nearly 2x the amount of inquiries they received last January!

Finding the whole social media business overwhelming or unsure of how to use it or what to even use?  MPM will be launching a new collaborative training opportunity in March.  Our first topic is all about social media.  We’ll hear from mentoring programs successfully using social media in a variety of ways and work with programs that wish to implement these platforms in their programs.  Stay tuned for more information next week!

Staff Spotlight

As we mentioned earlier, MPM recently returned from Washington, D.C. and the National Mentoring Summit, put on by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.  The Summit is designed to bring together individuals who represent the mentoring movement—this includes practitioners, researchers, mentoring partnership staff (part of MENTOR’s network of affiliates), corporate partners, and government and civic leaders.  The Summit featured more than 60 workshops and plenary sessions that focused on the theme of “Connection | Growth | Opportunity”.  Here are some of the ways we capitalized on this year’s theme:


One of the biggest highlights for MPM staff was the opportunity to meet with the offices of 9 of our 10 legislators from Minnesota as part of Capitol Hill Day.  As you may have heard, the D.C. area accumulated a lot of snow that kept federal offices from being open or running regular schedules.  The House declared a “snow week” prompting many legislators to stay home in their districts.  Fortunately, we were able to meet with membe

rs of their offices to share the great story of mentoring in Minnesota.  We talked to their staff about some important mentoring legislation, asked for their support, and shared information about mentoring programs in each district.  We were joined for a majority of our meetings with programs from across the state, including the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities, Duluth Area Family YMCA (Mentor Duluth and Rise & Reach), and Fond du Lac Reservation Native Youth 4-H Mentor Program.  Here are some photos from our Hill Day:


A common theme I noticed at the Summit was workshops and plenary sessions

plenary 2

Baltimore City Council Member, Brandon Scott, addressing the crowd

discussing racial equity and opportunity gaps within our communities.  Each session we heard sparked great conversations amongst our team and peers.

On Thursday, I participated in a fantastic workshop called “A Mentoring Initiative Poised to Address Equity in Education” presented by Pamila Gant (Mentoring Works Washington) and Cyndi Shepard (Western Washington University [WWU]-Compass 2 Campus [C2C]).  In the session, the presenters talked about the conversations happening in Washington State around racial equity in education and mentoring.   Pamila shared how racial equity has become a central component to the work she and their mentoring partnership are doing with their programs.  Cyndie, the founder of one of their programs, shared about her mission to develop access to higher education through mentoring for traditionally underrepresented, often marginalized, 5-12th graders in Washington.  She was inspired to start her mentoring program after meeting with a 10-yr old who didn’t see a future for himself other than to end up in prison, like his father.  Heartbroken by the hopelessness she saw in this boy, she made it her mission to engage college students as mentors to youth in their communities.  If youth saw another option for their future, their hope could potentially be restored.

In this workshop, Cyndie and Pamila led a simulation called “Opportunity Town” developed by Dr. John Korsmo at WWU meant to develop awareness and critical consciousness about privilege and opportunity.  The audience was divided into four groups representing a spectrum of classes—ranging from the Highlights (the top class) to the Oh No’s (the bottom of the bottom).  I was in the Oh No’s group for the simulation.  I can tell you, I’ve attended many culture competency/racial equity/diversity workshops and classes in my education and career.  I can honestly say: I have never been as fully submerged in the feelings and activities of this 6-7min simulation than I have been in any other training or exercise in my career.  Cyndie and Pamila successfully implemented a simulation that captivated the room and produced an honest conversation about racial equity amongst participants.  I had to check my privilege and what I thought I knew about racial equity and empathy to answer questions and speak openly about my experience.  I felt anger, hurt, fear, confusion…and hopelessness–something I had never truly and authentically felt before that workshop.  I didn’t understand the level of despair, the feeling of hopelessness, the sense of feeling the odds were stacked against me from the start without understanding why or if there was anything I could do to change my situation.

I texted my colleagues in and after the session to tell them about the workshop.  “We HAVE to figure out how we can implement this in our training for mentors and mentoring programs,” I said to them.  In just 75 minutes, my understanding of racial equity dramatically grew to help me see that I need to learn more.  I need to continue growing so that I can serve and live in an authentic way, to admit that I don’t have all the answers, and to know that that is okay.  Equity and equality are not the same thing.  It’s not enough to have an “equal playing field” if we all aren’t equipped with the tools to stand up and compete fairly.  Not having the right tools doesn’t equate to failure.  We can give everyone all the tools in the world to help them.  If we don’t acknowledge why one may not have the tools to begin with or may not have the ability or desire to have and use the tools or think about how we have the tools we have to begin with, we may not succeed.   Until we begin to think or understand these thoughts, we can’t fully commit to equitable work.


For Carolyn, Maria, Wendy, and I, this was our first time attending the Summit.  I


NBA Legend, Bob Lanier, and WNBA Champion, Tamika Catchings, share their experiences with mentoring

know I speak for all of us by saying how grateful we were to have had the opportunity to connect with our peers and grow through this unique professional development opportunity.  We all left the Summit feeling inspired to bring national themes and topics back to Minnesota!  As we continue to plan our trainings and conferences in the future, we’ll be mindful of how we can connect local voices and stories to national news stories and mentoring best practices to further enrich the work we all are doing.

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Quality Corner: Go-To Blogs and Newsletters for Mentoring Programs

Quality Corner

Quality Corner is a monthly space for MPM to share new research, resources, and ideas for program quality and development. These posts can range from a new perspective to think about and discuss with your staff to a helpful resource or tip you can incorporate into your everyday work.

For the first post I thought it would be valuable to share some of my favorite sources for research, news, and new ideas. These are all newsletters or blogs that you can subscribe to and receive in your inbox — an easy way to facilitate ongoing professional development with just 5 minutes a day. I hope you find at least one new resource today that you are interested in checking out and reading further!

Youth Development

The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring: A source for sharing new findings and ideas about youth mentoring.  The goal of the Chronicle is to encourage active dialogue around evidence-based practice in youth mentoring in ways that improve the practice of youth mentoring. Specific blogs to check out include:

  • New Mentoring Research—includes summaries and implications of new youth mentoring findings.
  • Forum—edited by Michael Garringer, this is a running commentary on mentoring research, policy, and practice, featuring the responses of guests with different views on the topic a question or topic.
  • Research from Related Fields—edited by Dr. Renee Spencer, this includes summaries and implications of new findings from other fields (e.g., developmental psychology, public health, philosophy).
  • Profiles in Mentoring—Q & A’s with the researchers whose work is featured. Readers will be introduced to a wide range of upcoming as well as more established researchers and practitioners.
  • Expert Corner—featuring the perspectives of the field’s leading researchers and practitioners, including Dr. Wilson Goode, Marty Martinez, Dr. David DuBois, Dave Van Patten, Dr. Michael Karcher, Dr. Timothy Cavell, Dr. Adar Ben-Eliyahu, and more.

Harvard Family Research Project: Helps organizations develop and evaluate strategies and get the resources they need to promote the well-being of children, youth, families, and their communities. They have a range of newsletters you can subscribe to including:

Education Northwest: . Their wide-ranging projects work with schools, districts, and communities in the Northwest area to make an impact on topics such as school improvement, community building, literacy, equity, and research. In addition to many resources in categories such as “College and Career Readiness” and “Family and Community Engagement,” they have a blog Northwest Matters for for evidence-based research and practical tips.

NEWS for Youth Work Professionals: A weekly newsletter produced by Minneapolis Employment and Training that includes many  great opportunities for youth and youth workers in the metro area.

Ignite Afterschool: One of their goals as a Minnesota’s after school network is to inform and mobilize network members about legislative issues at the local, state, and federal level that might affect their after school practice. Follow their blog or newsletter for legislative updates and calls to action, so our network stays connected and ready to respond to the issues we care about with a unified voice.

General Nonprofit

Pollen: Pollen is a community comprised of civic-minded connectors who share ideas, career and civic engagement opportunities and peer-to-peer recognition to create positive impact and personal and professional growth for its members.

Minnesota Rising: Offers great opportunities and events for emerging leaders in the field here in Minnesota.

Nonprofit with Balls: Vu Le, the Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps based in Seattle, candidly writes about the nonprofit sector: its strengths, faults, and areas of humor. He challenges us all to be more intentional and work to make our sector stronger.

Marketing & Communications

Engaging Volunteers: A blog to optimize your volunteer recruitment, training, and satisfaction run by VolunteerMatch, the largest online volunteer recruitment site.

101fundraising: A crowdblog on fundraising: by fundraisers, for fundraisers. New ideas and simple tips for you to think about.

Buffer: Need to know something about social media? Buffer is a one-stop-shop for the best info on social media trends, tips and engagement tricks.

Nonprofit Tech for Good:  Focuses on providing valuable, easy-to-understand information, news, and resources related to nonprofit technology, online communications, and mobile and social fundraising.


What did I miss? What do you look forward to showing up in your inbox every week? We are excited to share many more helpful resources and spark many more aha moments in the future!

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Staff Spotlight: …in with the new!

Happy New Year from all of us at the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota!  First, we’d like to take a moment to thank everyone for all of your the continued support throughout our 20+ years of serving Minnesota!  2015 was a year of change here at MPM and our entire staff is looking forward to what 2016 will bring to our organization and our network.

One of the things we’re most excited about is a new, revamped blog experience!  Our staff is dedicated to sharing all of the exciting things happening here at MPM and out in the mentoring and youth development fields.  Each month, we’ll be bringing you the following topics:
Staff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight is all about MPM!  You’ll get to meet our staff and peek into the work we are doing with and on behalf of the mentoring programs in Minnesota.  We’ll be featuring staff profiles and re-caps from events and meetings that we find inspiring!

Mentoring 365

Mentoring 365 is a blog series we began in 2015.  These posts are all about the great things happening in mentoring programs across Minnesota.  We’ll feature profiles of movers and shakers in the youth mentoring field, as well as highlight some of the great matches happening across Minnesota.

Mentoring in the News

MPM loves to shine a light on the quality work happening across the state—sometimes, news outlets do too!  Anytime we find a specific mention of mentoring and or a mentoring program in Minnesota, we’ll feature it here.

Quality Corner

For programs wondering what is happening in the research realm of the mentoring field or looking for some resources to help implement more best practices in to your program, Quality Corner is for you!  We’ll share resources that can help with your Improvement and Innovation (I&I) plans to ensure the quality conversation is continually happening in our organizations.

As we continue to innovate in the New Year, we’ll be sure to talk about that here too.  We want our blog to be a fun way for you to interact with us here at the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota.  What would you like to see here?

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New role for Kimberly F. Price at 3Mgives

3MPrice3M announced on November 10th, 2015 that Kimberly F. Price, vice-president, 3Mgives, was appointed to the position of senior vice president, Corporate Communications and Enterprise Services, effective January 1, 2016. She replaces Ian F. Hardgrove who will retire.

“Kim is a highly accomplished and respected leader with a proven track record of success across multiple functions at 3M, as well as in our communities. Kim’s highly engaging leadership style, combined with her strong personal and professional reputation, make her ideal for this important role,” said Inge Thulin, 3M chairman, president and chief executive officer.

Since 1953, 3Mgive’s has invested in initiatives that provide evidence-based solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The foundation offered critical support in the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota’s infancy. The 3M leadership team has continued to provide resources and support for MPM’s commitment to quality mentoring as MPM works to develop the mentoring field in Minnesota.

The 3Mgives mission holds true it with the appointment of Price. She started at 3M in 1986 in the Mergers and Acquisitions area of the legal department and has continued to take on advanced leadership roles prior to her appointment to vice-president of 3Mgives. While discussing the leadership development aspect of her role, Price says, “3M’s reputation in leadership development extends beyond our campus into the community. Building sustainable communities through our ‘people partnerships’ encourages student achievement and access to STEM and Business. Whether 3Mers share success as Visiting Wizards or (Sales) Force for the Kids . . . Mentoring Matters!”

Price earned a bachelor’s degree in government/sociology from Bowdoin College, a doctorate of law degree from Columbia University, and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University.  “Everyone has a pathway to get to where they are. My pathway was education,” says Price.

3M Excellence in Mentoring in America Award

MENTOR’s President & CEO, David Shapiro, 3M’s new VP 3Mgives, Kim Price, MPM’s former Executive Director, Joellen Gonder-Spacek, former MPM VP of Strategic Affairs, Polly Roach, attending the 2013 Excellence in Mentoring in America Awards.

In 2013 while accepting the Excellence in Mentoring in America: Corporate Leadership award on behalf of 3M, Price spoke about the role mentoring had in her education. “But for the family of mentors in my life, I probably wouldn’t be standing here or gone to schools like Princeton and Columbia. (Mentors) were not my blood family, but my beloved family.”

Congratulations on this exciting opportunity from the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota! We are sure that all of your mentors are proud of your new role!

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