How it Works

Starting in the 9th grade, OhanaHC provides mentorship and commits to working with mentees for ten years. Each mentee is surrounded by three mentors, known as an Ohana. Mentors work together to connect with the mentee and be the best support they can be for them to grow.

Our Structure

Why three mentors to one mentee? Great question! We understand that life gets busy, and that mentorship is a huge responsibility. With that in mind, ensuring that each student has three mentors means that there is always someone available for the student to lean on for support. Students also have three unique individuals that they can tap into for different perspectives. A diverse pool of support allows for more opportunities for the mentee and allows them to explore what the community has to offer.

How Students Are Chosen

Typically our mentorship program starts by working with 9th graders who have a 2.0 GPA or lower after their first quarter and continues for 10 years. 

We work with students of all races, abilities, genders, and creeds. All are welcome to participate as long as the previously stated criteria are met. However, we recognize that many of the students we work with are Black and Brown, as such, we are working to build partnerships and trust within these communities to help raise awareness of OhanaHC and to ensure we do this work in a way that resonates with the population we most predominantly serve. 

We are committed to continuously advancing our processes and our learnings in order to better serve our students with intentionality, care, and thoughtfulness. We also recognize that this equitable approach will also have beneficial and inclusive implications for all other identity intersectionalities.

Becoming a Mentor

Mentors are recruited through partnerships with organizations and community members that value the work we do. Mentors voluntarily give their time with a deep understanding of the work we are trying to do and have the ability to commit to each student on a regular basis.

Mentor candidates must complete an interest form. From there, there is an extensive interview process to see if the commitment is a good fit for both parties. After that, candidates must pass a background check and participate in a variety of training, including:

  • Initial Onboarding 
  • Sexual Harassment 
  • Equitable Mentorship 

Once all training has been completed, candidates get the opportunity to volunteer at our partner high schools to gain an understanding of the culture of our communities while bridging relationships and connections. After completing volunteer hours, candidates will join together for a reflection session.

Many mentors mentioned the desire to start getting involved earlier than in previous years, and this is the start! We prioritize working on Part 2 of our mission – getting to know others in our community and your fellow mentors because it helps enhance the overall OhanaHC experience.  

Candidates then attend a meet and greet session at their respective schools, which initiates the Ohana grouping process.

How Pairings Happen

Before students are paired with their three mentors, we host a ‘Meet and Greet’ at each of our partner high schools. This gives families, students, and mentors an opportunity to have a proper introduction to start connecting. From there, group activities will take place for students to meet with each potential mentor. Students are able to decide who they have a strong connection with and will submit their top five choices for mentors. From there, we work to make sure the student’s mentor group is diverse and supportive for the best experience possible.

We do our best to include at least one of the student’s top choices in their group of three. We cannot guarantee that each student will be paired with their choice of mentors, but we can promise that the mentors will have similar interests as mentees. 

Continuous Learning

Mentorship is a continuous opportunity to learn, grow, and build connections. With this, we have required training for all of our mentors so they can continue to build their skills and deepen their knowledge as they guide mentees. The more we continue to learn and push ourselves, the better we can be for the students we work with.

Mentors are not the only ones that get to come together and learn. Like any school club, mentees will have the opportunity to meet after school every other week for an hour. Their school liaison will host club meetings to help students explore character development and leadership skill building. They will cover topics and activities around persistence, mindset, pride, and reflecting for improvement. We know that there is a leader within each of our students, and we want to ensure that we are building the tools to help them achieve this through peer-to-peer activities.

This is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Patience and persistence are key to ensuring resilience throughout this experience. Think of each year working with a mentee like one mile completed on your 10-mile journey to the finish line. There will be challenging times, but you will look forward to finishing the race because there is beauty in seeing a student’s journey unfold.

Ohana of Howard County, Inc. is following the CDC, Maryland, and Howard County recommendations to ensure the safety of students, volunteers, and staff. At this time, we will be moving to in-person programming and masks are optional. When appropriate, we will provide hybrid or virtual options for engagement.

© 2023 || OhanaHC || 501(c)3 || All Rights Reserved