COVID-19 Resources for Mentoring Programs
A Note to Our Program Partners
As all of you work to respond to the constantly-evolving developments of school closures and program disruptions caused by COVID-19, MENTOR Virginia recognizes that this is an extremely difficult time. While the recommendation for social distancing and the limiting of in-person contact is critical for public health, it also poses real challenges to mentoring programs that seek to foster and nurture long-term mentoring relationships for our young people. While we recommend that all mentoring programs across Virginia suspend in-person mentoring, we recognize that our young people–perhaps now more than ever–need the connection with their mentor(s) to help them survive and thrive in this isolating and anxiety-inducing time.
This page contains a collection of resources that may be helpful for program staff, stakeholders, mentors, and families as COVID-19 disrupts standard program operations. Our team will update this page as new resources become available. Thanks for your continued dedication to Virginia’s young people.
The MENTOR Virginia Team
Upcoming Opportunities for Virginia's Mentoring Programs
MENTOR Virginia staff are not taking any in-person meetings or conducting any in-person trainings at this time. The MENTOR Virginia team continues to be available virtually to assist with any programmatic needs: we can be reached by phone at 804-828-1536 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MENTOR Virginia has a few upcoming or ongoing opportunities for mentoring programs:
Virtual Townhalls for Mentoring Programs: To help foster collaboration and learning among Virginia’s many mentoring programs, MENTOR Virginia is hosting townhalls to discuss shared challenges and solutions. Here is the recording of our most recent townhall on Supporting Young People & Families Through Trauma & COVID-19, featuring John Richardson-Lauve of ChildSavers.
Virtual New Mentor Training: We are hosting two upcoming virtual New Mentor Trainings that are open to the public:
- Tuesday, July 21st from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm | Register here for this virtual training
- Tuesday, August 18th from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm | Register here for this virtual training
Open Office Hours Initiative: Our virtual open office hours are an opportunity for program staff from all types of programs, at any level of expertise, to dedicate work time towards specific projects that address current program needs. Office hours cannot take the place of more dedicated time and support through a technical assistance (TA) project, but it can be a time to decide whether a TA project is right for you or to get support and resources to make some progress on your important projects. There is no cost to you; just request an appointment and MENTOR Virginia will contact you to schedule and confirm.
Program Consultation: COVID-19 is highlighting some of the challenges that mentoring programs are facing, and technical assistance (TA), a no-cost program consultation service, is a great resource to help programs respond to this crisis in ways that lead to stronger, longer-lasting, and higher-quality mentoring relationships for more of Virginia’s young people. Partners who apply for TA can access up to 50 hours of virtual, individualized consultation. TA can help with COVID-19 response planning by helping your program:
- Find and implement a high-quality alternative to in-person mentoring
- Plan for match closure
- Develop a virtual training for mentors
- Develop a volunteer recruitment or retention plan
- Develop a fundraising plan for post-coronavirus fundraising climate
- Implement trauma-informed strategies for supporting young people and families
Programs that submit an application for TA should forward the confirmation email they receive to Sarah at email@example.com in order to begin TA immediately. Otherwise, it could take 2-4 weeks for consultation to begin.
Resources for Supporting Young People & Families Through COVID-19
Information on Trauma & Resilience
- Fatherly: How “COVID-19 Kids” Will Recover from Trauma
- Aces Too High: What are Adverse Childhood Experiences & How Do They Impact Communities?
- Positive Psychology: 30+ Tips for Building Resilience in Children
- Child Mind Institute: How Anxiety Leads to Disruptive Behavior in Kids
- ChildSavers: Free Ongoing Opportunities for Trauma & Resilience Training
Supporting Young People Through Trauma & COVID-19
- MENTOR Virginia: Recording of Townhall on Supporting Young People & Families Through Trauma & COVID-19
- Zero to Three: Coronavirus Resources for Early Childhood Professionals
- MENTOR National: Supporting Young People in the Wake of Trauma
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Supporting Young People During the Coronavirus
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Helping Children with Traumatic Separation or Traumatic Grief Related to COVID-19
- Healthline: Toddlers to Teens: How to Help Kids Cope with Stress from COVID-19
- ChildTrends: Recommendations to Support & Protect Children’s Emotional Well-Being During the Pandemic
- Search Institute: Checklist: Tips for Building Developmental Relationships During COVID-19
Teens & Young Adults:
- Healthy Children: How to Help Teens During the Pandemic
- New York Times: 5 Ways to Helps Teens Manage Anxiety About the Coronavirus
- National PTA: Helping Teens Cope with Missed Milestones
Mindfulness & Breathing Activities for Kids
- Positive Psychology: 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Kids & Teens
- Coping Skills for Kids: Resources for Calming Anxiety in Children
- Coping Skills for Kids: Deep-Breathing Exercises for Kids
- ChildSavers: Self-Care Exercises to Try with Kids
- ChildSavers: Calming Breathing Techniques for Kids
Resources to Help Families & Caregivers Cope with the Pandemic
- Child Mind Institute: Resources for Parents and Families
- ChildTrends: Resources for Parents and Caregivers
- ACEs Connection: Resources for Parenting with ACEs in a Pandemic
- ChildSavers: De-Escalation Tips for Parents and Caregivers
- Search Institute: How to Use the Pandemic to Teach Kids to Be Good Citizens
- Child Mind Institute: How to Avoid Passing Your Coronavirus Anxiety to Kids
- Child Mind Institute: Avoid Tantrums and Disruptive Behavior in Kids by Focusing on Transitions
Self-Care Resources for Parents, Caregivers, & Youth-Serving Professionals
- Child Mind Institute: Self-Care for Parents & Caregivers During Coronavirus
- Zero to Three: Mindfulness Exercises for Parents
- VCU: Free Artfulness Series for Self-Care
- Shine: Care for Your Coronavirus Anxieties
- Stay Home Take Care: Interactive Website for Social Distancing Self-Care
- US News: 35 Destinations You Can Virtually Explore
- InsightTimer: #1 Free App for Sleep, Relaxation, & More
- Digital Trends: The Best Yoga Apps for Android & iOS
Talking with Children About the Pandemic
- National Assoc. of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Coronavirus
- NPR: Comic for Kids: Exploring the Coronavirus
- Virginia Public Radio: Tips to Help Kids Adjust to the “New Normal” of the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Cricket Media: Children’s Magazine on Pandemics
- BrainPop: Interactive Coronavirus Lesson for Kids
- Youth Service America: How Youth Can Help During the Coronavirus Outbreak: Ideas for Good
Supporting Young People While Standing Up Against Racism
The Search Institute has released a tipsheet on how to respond to fear and scapegoating with young people during the Coronavirus, rooted in the Developmental Relationships Framework . This tipsheet highlights how mentors and other nurturing adults in a child’s life can continue to express care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities throughout the health crisis.
Facilitating Continued Mentoring Connections
As COVID-19 forces disruption to most mentoring programs in Virginia, here are some recommendations for helping matches maintain consistent contact without in-person meetings.
- Set up a pen-pal system for mentors/mentees by having mentors and, if possible, mentees email or mail messages to the program coordinator, who can forward them to the mentor/mentee.
- Facilitate a 3-way conference call between each match pair to include the mentor, mentee, and a member of program staff.
- Use the breakout room feature on Zoom to facilitate monitored interactions with matches
- Matches can maintain consistent contact via: Phone or text, Messaging apps (Whatsapp, Snapchat, etc.), Social media, Video chats, Mailed or emailed letters
Find more guidance around implementing E-Mentoring below under the “E-Mentoring” tab.
- Send a text, email, video, or note to a young person that says they matter to you personally and you are thinking about them during this crisis.
- Ask young people to set one personal goal for something they want to achieve during the time away from your school or program, and then periodically check in on their progress.
- Send notes to parenting adults to suggest ways they can help young people stay connected to the work of your class or program while they are at home.
- Send young people something to watch or read that will be new to them.
Many mentoring programs across Virginia are seeking alternatives to in-person meetings between mentors and mentees to facilitate continued mentoring connections during this time of crisis. E-Mentoring is a great option, but it has to be implemented well in order to keep young people safe and to ensure effective virtual relationship-building. Below are some resources to help mentoring programs get started.
- E-Mentoring Supplement to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring
- E-Mentoring Checklist
- Webinar: Mentoring in the Age of Technology
- Virtual Match Activities | 10 Virtual Activities for Matches
MENTOR Virginia has also created a document that is a one-stop shop for links to valuable E-Mentoring resources. Resources covered include:
- Best Practices for E-Mentoring
- Managing Risks Associated with E-Mentoring
- Effectively Engaging with Young People Virtually
- Accessing Technology During COVID-19
This training was designed for in-person mentoring programs that are considering pivoting to E-Mentoring in response to COVID-19. Topics covered include an overview of several technology platforms for E-Mentoring, risk management for E-Mentoring (including information about insurance, privacy laws, parental consent, and policies & procedures), and best practices for closing current matches if E-Mentoring is not a good fit for your program.
Part II: Best Practices for E-Mentoring
This training dives into the best practices for E-Mentoring in six key areas: recruitment, screening, training, matching & initiating, monitoring & support, and closure. Differences in best practices for E-Mentoring as compared to in-person mentoring are emphasized throughout.
MENTOR National’s Virtual Mentoring Portal
The Virtual Mentoring Portal is dedicated to MENTOR National’s new initiative in response to COVID-19, which aims to provide mentoring programs with access to safe, monitored platforms for E-Mentoring. Access the Virtual Mentoring Portal here, and find information about the iCouldBe and CricketTogether virtual mentoring platforms and also find answers to many frequently asked questions about MENTOR National’s current and future efforts to support a national E-Mentoring movement.
Accessing Technology During COVID-19
- FCC Agreement: Providers will waive late fees, provide open hot-spots and will not disconnect service for lack of payment.
- Comcast COVID-19 Response: Offering free WiFi for two months to K-12 and higher education students. All Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time.
- AT&T COVID-19 Response: Offering open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low-income families.
- Verizon COVID-19 Response: Offering free international calling to most countries. Customers should call to receive temporary plan upgrades, including data options.
- Sprint COVID-19 Response: Offering unlimited data to existing customers and allowing all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge.
- T-Mobile COVID-19 Response: Offering unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge.
- Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months: Offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
Tips for Retaining Volunteers During COVID-19
A common challenge facing many mentoring programs during the COVID-19 crisis is how to retain volunteer mentors who have experienced disruptions in their mentoring relationships or are completely unable to continue mentoring as a result of school/program closures. Below are some tips that programs can use to retain their volunteers throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Keep Open Lines of Communications
The quickest way to lose volunteers is to stop communicating with them, which is easy to do in a crisis where there are a million other challenges that require your immediate attention. Try to reach out to mentors once every two weeks, or any time there’s a major organizational update to help them feel connected to the program. Keep them in the loop!
If Possible, Provide Alternatives to In-Person Mentoring Connections
Even if there is not a way for your mentoring program to offer E-Mentoring interactions that allow your mentors to continue their mentoring relationships, consider other ways that mentors can maintain a relationship from a distance. Pen-pal campaigns are a great way to keep mentors engaged and still offer some support to mentees. If mentors don’t know what to write about, set up weekly themes or provide a list of topic suggestions.
Engage Your Volunteers In Alternative Ways
If there is no way at all to continue mentoring relationships within your program, consider alternative ways that you can engage and retain your current volunteers. Maybe they can create video messages to their mentees that your program posts on social media, or can assist in virtual fundraising or volunteer recruitment campaigns. Another idea is to offer a monthly virtual training opportunity for volunteers, or host virtual support groups where mentors can come together to support each other through the crisis. For a real-life example, check out this virtual volunteer opportunity that Junior Achievement created in response to COVID-19. Get creative!
If Nothing Else, Let Your Volunteers Know When You’ll Reach Out Again
If there isn’t any way for your program to utilize your current volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis, let them know that through email or phone. Though it is hard to plan what summer or fall programming might look like at this time, let them know when you will reach out next with an update on when they can get involved again, and follow through. Be sure to thank them for the time they were able to give to your program this year.
Saying Goodbye: Match Closure & COVID-19
Here are our recommendations for facilitating virtual match closure:
Fundraising Resources for Mentoring Programs
Not only has COVID-19 disrupted mentoring relationships and program operations, it has also drastically changed the fundraising environment for mentoring programs. Below are some resources to help programs re-think their fundraising strategies.
- MENTOR National: Fundraising Resources for Programs During COVID-19
- Amy Eisenstein: Successful Fundraising: 8 Steps to Weather the Coronavirus Crisis
- Network for Good: Coronavirus Impacting Your Nonprofit? Here’s What to Do
- MobileCause: What to Do if Your Fundraising Event is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus
- Soapbox Engage: Virtual Fundraising Ideas that Work
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: 5 Ways to Raise Money When Donors are Consumed by Nonstop News
- Webinar: What the CARES Act Means for Summer and Out-of-School Time Programs
- Nonprofit Quarterly: How Nonprofits Can Utilize the New Federal Laws Dealing with COVID-19
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Visual Guide to Coronavirus Emergency Loans
- Independent Sector: Guide to Small Business Loans for Nonprofits During Coronavirus
Coronavirus Resources from MENTOR National
MENTOR National’s Coronavirus Resource Page
Mentoring programs seeking additional resources can visit MENTOR National’s new Coronavirus Tips & Resources for Mentoring website page, which will be updated with new resources as they become available. Find tips on E-Mentoring, guidance for mentors, and information on advocacy and legislation related to COVID-19.
MENTOR National’s Virtual Mentoring Portal
The Virtual Mentoring Portal is dedicated to MENTOR National’s new initiative in response to COVID-19, which aims to provide mentoring programs with access to safe, monitored platforms for E-Mentoring. Access the Virtual Mentoring Portal here, and find information about the iCouldBe virtual mentoring platform and also find answers to many frequently asked questions about MENTOR National’s current and future efforts to support a national E-Mentoring movement.
Let MENTOR National Know: How is Your Program Responding to COVID-19?
MENTOR National is currently collecting feedback from mentoring programs across the country about their challenges related to the coronavirus with the goal of better understanding current needs. MENTOR National plans to use this information to provide virtual resources that are responsive to real-life program needs. Take the survey to let MENTOR National know what resources you want to see, and to share any creative solutions you’re program has implemented in response to COVID-19 that might be helpful to other mentoring programs.
Virginia-Specific Resources for Children & Families
Health & Education Resources
- Virginia Department of Health: COVID-19 Information and Resources
- Virginia.Gov’s Resources for Coronavirus–includes resources specific to healthcare, public safety, education and childcare, benefits, employment, and business operations for Virginia residents
- Virginia Department of Education: Resources for Children & Families
- 2-1-1 Virginia: Search for Services in Virginia
Food Security Resources
- No Child Hungry: School Meal Finder
- Federation of Virginia Food Banks
- USDA: Find Meals When Schools are Closed
Equity & Access Resources
- #EdEquityVA’s COVID-19 Newsletter—contains coronavirus resources for students experiencing homelessness, EL and immigrant students, and students with disabilities
- Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’s Facebook Page–contains coronavirus resource links and posts for people with disabilities
- ChildSavers’ Ultimate List of RVA Coronavirus Resources–contains links to RVA resources for food distribution, assistance with bills and housing, and accessing other services during coronavirus
Resources for Continued Learning & Virtual Activities
Resources for Continued Learning
Here are some resources to help kids continue learning while schools are out:
- VPOST: Summer Activity Guide
- Richmond OST Alliance: Greater Richmond Summer Programming Shared Drive
- ACEs Connection: Resources for Education in a Pandemic
- Find Success in Summer Learning
- Seesaw (Learning platform)
- Nearpod (Learning platform)
- Mystery Science (K-12 curriculum available)
- Mangahigh (Math games)
- Kahoot (Learning games)
- Belouga (Global community access)
- Amazing People Schools (U.K. educational website)
- 100+ Educational Shows for Kids on Netflix
- Ultimate List of Kid-Friendly TED Talks
Virtual Activity Ideas for Mentoring Relationships
- Focus on asking each other questions, telling stories, sharing memories or life experiences–programs can use guided questions or prompts to facilitate these conversations.
- Make up stories together, taking turns completing sentences or paragraphs. Mentors/mentees can even create their own story cubes that they can use virtually, or can utilize online Mad Libs.
- Start a book, TV show, or movie clubs where they read/watch agreed upon content independently and then come together by phone, email, or text to discuss it.
- Complete online personality or knowledge quizzes together.
- Start a pen-pal writing campaign and if needed, refer to some writing prompts.
- Utilize these free online learning resources for kids.
- Read stories or books to each other over the phone or video-chat.
- Research and explore career, college, or community service opportunities together.
- Play 20 Questions or virtual charades on the phone or through video-chat
- Use online coloring pages as an activity to do while talking to each other on the phone, or complete individually and mail them to the program coordinator to be forwarded to the mentor/mentee.
- Play classic conversation games.
- Explore new blogs or share old favorites.
- Go on a virtual tour of the world’s most famous museums including the MET, the National Gallery of Art, the MOMA, and many more.
- Create a shared country on NationStates and work through daily governance challenges.
- Utilize free apps on smartphones and other devices to play multiplayer games together.
- Register for free to Sanford Harmony to access online stories, songs, and games focused on social-emotional learning that matches grades K-6 can work through together.
- Engage in group learning and fun activities on Kahoot!
- Check out a new podcast or Youtube channel together.
- Watch a livestream of the Opera or Broadway performances.
- Play the free online Scrabble alternative called Lexulous to play word games together.
- Go on virtual field trips.
- Play virtual bingo.
- Watch kid-friendly TED Talks or TED ED videos together and discuss each video’s concepts and ideas.
- If using Zoom, use the screen share option, open the whiteboard and play Hangman, Tic Tac Toe or just draw together.
- If you have the same board games in your homes, play games that do not require you to share the same board. Ex) Battleship, Scattergories, Guess Who, Bingo
- Have a fashion show, where you dress up in funny costumes or themes.
- Create a scavenger hunt for each other where they have to find everyday objects in your house and show each other.
- Cook or bake together if you have the ingredients.
- Watch Bob Ross videos together and try to re-create his paintings at the same time. See whose painting comes out the funniest!