The objective of Mentors of Rotterdam is to improve the educational outcome and future of children from areas with lower income/disadvantages through one-on-one mentoring, by matching every primary/high school student with a student mentor. The project started out with the matching and cooperation of 110 student mentors and 110 primary/high school students. In 2015-2106 around 700 student mentors and 600 primary/high school students were trained, matched and had a mentor/mentee relationship. The target for 2019-2020 is to train, match and work with 2000 student mentors as a mentor/mentee.
Mentors or Rotterdam is part of a holistic approach within the Rotterdam Children’s Zone approach that is operational in Rotterdam South. This approach focuses on providing extra school hours and career orientation, parental involvement and extra care. The aim of the Rotterdam Children’s Zone is to contribute to an environment that ensures the best possible future for the children. In order to do so the Rotterdam Children’s Zone allocated resources to support and professional development of the teaching staff and provide the children with extra learning time and support.
Mentors of Rotterdam is a data driven intervention and is monitored rigorously. Evaluation and improvement of the methodology and of the Programmes execution are deeply embedded in the structure of the Programme.
Evaluation is done on various levels:
· on the level of the participating schools the evaluation focuses on execution, effectiveness, quality and impact;
· on the level of student mentors and mentees the evaluation focuses on efficiency, effectiveness and pleasure;
· on the level of faculty teachers the evaluation focuses on continuous improvement.
Participants are asked to fill in an evaluation form after each mentor/mentee connection.
The Programmeme is monitored by an independent research company, Panteia. This independent monitoring is supervised by a committee of relevant professors of various disciplines. Panteia monitors the effects and outcomes of the intervention, and also studies the longitudinal effects.
Unintended outcomes of the Programme are that it creates more qualified and motivated teachers in schools in Rotterdam South, improved preparation for the labour market and traineeships and increasing the social responsibility of RUAS students.
Mentors of Rotterdam is funded by a private philanthropic foundation and isn’t dependent on political support. However the political climate does affect the public debate on the multicultural society in The Netherlands and has a negative influence on the attitude towards migrant communities.
Critical factors for success have been the ability to pioneer at RVC de Hef, which won the National Education Award in 2015 for this Programme, the relationship with long term investment partner the Verre Bergen fund and the tenacity of the Programme team. The essential critical factor is the magic mix that fortunately occurs most times between the student mentor and the mentee when a human connection is established.
The Programme is designed to guarantee the best match between the student mentor and the mentee, and to provide them both with the best preparation, opportunity and tools to achieve the goals of mentoring. An overview of these steps:
A central Programme team selects participating schools. With the management team of these schools, classes of eligible mentees are selected. With the class mentor, the goal for this class is discussed.
Together with the management team of the several institutions of the RUAS , the Programme team looks for the best fit in the curriculum of the students for the Programme mentors of Rotterdam. These first two steps are necessary for the recruitment of mentees and student mentors.
The Programme team makes a goal-match; we match the student mentors according to their ability and interests to the group of mentees with a matching need for mentoring. This requires that both the student mentors and the mentees at the school have a matching schedule, to enable the mentoring to take place.
After this goal-match phase, the training and screening of the student mentors begins. A minimum of two training sessions takes place. The mentees also receive a preparatory class to prepare them for their time with a student mentor.
After the training, the individual matching takes place: every mentee is matched with a student mentor. Matching is based on shared interests and shared school experience, as these prove to be the most important factors for a positive relation. The first meeting between the student mentors and mentees takes place in the school of the mentee. The student mentors provide school-based mentoring, which means that all student mentors work in the school during school hours. This guarantees immediate contact with the teaching staff, and is a safe and familiar setting for the mentees.
The student mentors provide approximately 20 hours of one-on-one mentoring. They focus their mentoring on three roles: tutor (academic results), coach (self-efficacy and self-confidence) and talent development and career counselling. Each mentor session requires preparation. This preparation is obligatory, and part of the student assessment. To enrich the mentor session, a toolkit is provided, both real-time and virtual. The professor of RUAS is on-site, and provides coaching and counselling when needed. The presence of the professor is a prerequisite to make sure the mentoring process runs smoothly.
After the mentor session, all student mentors receive intervision and reflect on their effectivity as a mentor. This intervision session is supervised by a professor of RUAS. The school of the mentees contributes to these sessions. The interactions between teaching staff of the school of the mentee, the professor of RUAS and the student mentors ensure that a learning network is created which has only one goal: to improve the future of the mentees.
The student mentors are required to reflect after each mentor session on effectiveness and their own coaching skills. At the end of their course as a student mentor, they hand in a report on their mentee and reflect on their professional development. This report is reviewed and graded by the professor of RUAS. The mentor course ends with a festive session, where student mentors and mentees end their partnership. Both receive certificates of attendance.
Key roles of the Programme are fulfilled by the Programme team (Programme manager, head of methodology, business process manager and assistant), professors of RUAS (trained professionals, with in depth knowledge of coaching, skills for relationship management and experience in dealing with youngsters), school staff (management and teaching staff of mentees’ school), trainees (former student mentors, assistants to the professors of RUAS) and the executive board (board of directors, board of the foundation of mentors of Rotterdam).
Final outputs of the project are:
2013-2014: 100 student mentors trained and matched for Rotterdam South
2014-2015: 375 student mentors trained and matched for Rotterdam South
2015-2016: 700 student mentors trained and matched for Rotterdam South