Unprecedented Challenges Call for Innovative Solutions

Back in July 2020, MENTOR Virginia conducted a survey to measure how the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting mentoring programs across the state. The results showed that 77% of the 47 programs surveyed, all of whom were in-person programs before the pandemic, were going to be offering some form of e-mentoring—or mentoring on virtual platforms—for the first time that fall. This unprecedented shift in mentoring was driven by programs’ commitment to finding new ways to support young people during challenging times.

In the same survey, 68% of programs reported having interest in joining peer-led working groups focused on best practices for e-mentoring. To meet this need for dedicated space to learn and adapt together, MENTOR Virginia launched 5 no-cost pilot working group opportunities for mentoring programs. With groups for school-based, community-based, group-based, STEM, and literacy-focused mentoring models, over 35 program staff members signed up to participate.

At first, the groups were only slated to meet for two months in the fall of 2020, providing immediate support to programs as they figured out how to implement e-mentoring. But as a New Year rolled around, core members for 3 of the groups were still meeting on a regular basis. MENTOR Virginia virtually met with members from all of the working groups in January 2021 to figure out what the pilot initiative for the e-mentoring working groups had accomplished and whether the groups would continue to meet throughout 2021.

The Results from the Pilot E-Mentoring Working Groups

What’s Next for the Working Groups?

After a successful pilot, MENTOR Virginia is excited to open enrollment to new programs that wish to participate! All working groups are now open to programs with e-mentoring, hybrid, and in-person mentoring models. This enrollment period will close on Friday, May 7. New members will be invited to attend their first working group meeting in mid-May.

New members can join one of three core working groups:

School-Based Working Group

This working group is designed for any mentoring programs that work in or with school districts to provide mentoring services.

Meeting frequency: option for biweekly; monthly at minimum


STEM Working Group

This working group is designed for any mentoring programs that work to provide STEM-related opportunities and activities.

Meeting frequency: biweekly for the first month, and then monthly


Community-Based Working Group

This working group is designed for any mentoring programs that provide mentoring as part of a community-based organization.

Meeting frequency: monthly


Not sure which working group is right for you?  Email sarah@mentorva.org for more information.

  • WHO: The working groups are open to all mentoring program staff and operationally-involved volunteers.
  • WHAT: The working groups are peer-led spaces where programs can come together to share resources and best practices, and solve common challenges related to offering mentoring services.
  • HOW: Working group meetings are virtual and are designed to be flexible and responsive to each member’s needs as they arise and evolve. Members work together to co-create agendas.
  • WHEN: Each group has developed their own structures, including flexible meeting schedules and meeting frequencies.
  • COMMITMENT: It is recommended that new members join one working group at a time and plan to spend at least one hour per month on working group activities. Working groups will continue to meet for as long as members wish, but individual members can exit a working group at any time.

MENTOR Virginia is excited about this next phase of the working group initiative, which will continue providing opportunities for peer-learning that meet the needs of Virginia’s mentoring field. For more information about this initiative, please email sarah@mentorva.org.