National Quality Mentoring System

If you have questions about participating in the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS), we have answers! View our NQMS FAQs below, and if you find that your question has not been answered, please contact our office at 804-829-7236 or email Sarah at

National Quality Mentoring System FAQs

What is the goal of NQMS?

The goal of the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) is to provide mentoring programs with a system to assess themselves against National Quality Mentoring Standards based on the fourth edition of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, as well as opportunities to receive a quality designation, and training and technical assistance to support improvements to their mentoring program over time.

What are the benefits of doing NQMS for mentoring programs?

There are many benefits of participating in NQMS for mentoring programs. First and foremost, through NQMS, mentoring programs are able to engage in an ongoing quality-improvement process that strengthens their mentoring program’s practices in alignment with the Elements of Effective Practice. Programs that are aligned with best practices have been shown to be more effective and to produce improved outcomes for youth.

Mentoring programs that participate in NQMS can also:

  • Receive search priority in the Mentoring Connector’s volunteer referral system and attain credibility with volunteers and parents that are seeking a quality program to get involved with
  • Receive access to training and support from MENTOR Virginia staff
  • Earn badges that can be publicly displayed on websites, marketing materials, etc. that showcase commitment to quality improvement
  • Be featured on MENTOR Virginia’s website as a “Quality Partner”
  • Utilize data from the NQMS process to highlight commitment to quality improvements to funders and other stakeholders

What questions are on the self-assessment that mentoring programs must complete as part of NQMS?

The program self-assessment, which all mentoring programs participating in NQMS must complete, includes 92 items and is completed entirely online. The self-assessment tool is divided into three main parts:

  1. Program Design and Management: Items in this section ask questions about all tasks and responsibilities associated with managing a mentoring program including establishing a leadership structure, hiring and retaining staff, managing finances, maintaining accountability to stakeholders, marketing, and advocacy.
  2. Program Operations: Items in this section ask questions about all elements of a mentoring program related to program participants and match relationships including recruitment, screening, matching, match monitoring and supervision, ongoing match support, and match closure.
  3. Program Evaluation: Items in this section ask questions about setting program goals, tracking program data, collecting outcome information, reflecting on findings, and using information to improve the program.

Each of the 92 questions in the self-assessment focuses on a recommended benchmark or enhancement from the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring.

Do I need an account in Mentoring Connector to participate in NQMS?

Yes! The NQMS process is managed online in the Mentoring Connector. The Mentoring Connector is a free service and the only database of its kind designed to help quality youth mentoring programs across the United States recruit volunteer mentors and participate in the National Quality Mentoring System. All programs that intend to participate in NQMS will need to create an account in the Mentoring Connector, which can be accessed here. For more information about the Mentoring Connector, visit the “Join Our Network” page.

If you need help creating your account or figuring out how to complete NQMS tasks in Mentoring Connector, please reach out to Sarah at

When is the right time for my mentoring program to initiate NQMS?

The self-assessment that all mentoring programs must complete as part of their participation in NQMS measures how well mentoring programs are implementing key practices. As such, these practices must be in daily use by mentoring programs for NQMS to be a helpful process. Mentoring programs that are newly-developing and still have elements of their programs that are theoretical or “on paper” will not find NQMS to be very helpful. MENTOR Virginia recommends that mentoring programs be in operation for a full year prior to engaging in the NQMS process.

Is NQMS a one-time evaluation for mentoring programs?

No. The NQMS process is designed to be ongoing, not to be a one-time evaluation that mentoring programs participate in. Ideally, mentoring programs will begin the NQMS process anew every 3 years, completing a new self-assessment and developing a new Improvement and Innovation Plan with goals that programs can work on implementing for the remainder of the NQMS cycle. NQMS is not a “one chance to prove your program’s quality” type of process, but instead allows for ongoing assessment, improvement, and recognition of quality practices for mentoring programs.

Will the results of my program’s NQMS self-assessment or improvement plan be made public?

No! Programs are free to publish their self-assessment or other NQMS documents as they see fit, but MENTOR Virginia will never make any NQMS reports public. Confidentiality is our top priority.

During NQMS, will my mentoring program be compared to other mentoring programs?

No! NQMS does not rank programs or provide a “score” that programs can use to compare themselves to other mentoring programs. The purpose of NQMS is for mentoring programs to assess themselves against best practice standards set forth by the Elements of Effective Practice and then to make improvements. NQMS allows programs to track their progress as they make quality improvements to their program, meaning programs can compare their own practices before and after NQMS to see how much they have improved as a result of participating in NQMS.

Is NQMS an accreditation or certification process for mentoring programs?

No. NQMS is not designed to be a way for mentoring programs to earn an accreditation or certification. It is instead meant to be an ongoing quality improvement process for mentoring programs interested in aligning themselves more closely with research-based best practices. However, mentoring programs that participate in NQMS can earn badges. To learn more about this badging system, see the question below: “How does the NQMS badging system work?”

How does the NQMS badging system work?

NQMS designations and badges will be awarded based on a program’s commitment to and actions taken to assess and improve quality, not a program’s “score” on the self-assessment. There are two badges and designations that may be awarded to mentoring programs during each 3-year NQMS cycle. 

  1. Step 1: Initiated in NQMS: this badge is for mentoring programs that have completed the NQMS self-assessment, completed their review meeting with MENTOR Virginia, and collaborated with MENTOR Virginia to complete their Improvement and Innovation Plan.
  2. Step 2: Progressing in NQMS: this badge is for mentoring programs that have already earned their Step 1 badge and have completed 3-5 quality improvement goals as specified in their Improvement and Innovation Plan.

Because NQMS is about continuous, ongoing quality improvement efforts, to maintain badges beyond this 3-year period, programs must continue to engage in NQMS work with MENTOR Virginia. Badges expire 3 years after a mentoring program’s NQMS review if a new cycle of NQMS is not started, at which point the program would be expected to take all badges off their website and marketing materials.

How often are mentoring programs expected to repeat the NQMS process?

NQMS is designed to be an ongoing quality improvement process that starts anew every 3 years. To start a new cycle of NQMS, mentoring programs must complete a new self-assessment and work with MENTOR Virginia to develop another Improvement and Innovation Plan. For the remainder of the time in the 3-year cycle, the mentoring program works toward reaching and implementing the goals in their Improvement and Innovation Plan, with support from MENTOR Virginia.

For more information about NQMS, please visting MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership’s website or email Sarah at