Matching Volunteers and Students

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The magic of mentoring can happen only when programs match the right volunteers with the right students. This section explores best practices for this critical component of program success.


Key Resources and Forms for this Section


The Role of Early Group Mentoring

For the first three months of each program cycle, YouthBuild mentors and mentees engage in group mentoring activities planned and delivered by the mentoring coordinator. This period allows for participants to build trust, form connections, and start migrating toward natural pairings between specific volunteers and students. All participants should be matched in one-to-one mentoring pairs by the end of these three months. This section of the Operations Manual discusses how both participants and staff can help with the matching process. See the section on Mentoring Activities for more information about the group mentoring period.

See additional information about the group mentoring period.

Matching Criteria

Mentoring coordinators must be able to create matches between volunteers and students that have a good chance at lasting success based on several factors, such as common interests, compatible meeting availability, and personalities that mesh well together.

Most programs will use matching criteria such as:

  • Bonding and mutual interest in each other during the group mentoring period
  • Career interests or hobbies
  • Availability of one-to-one meeting times
  • Geographic proximity (it is harder for matches to meet if they live far apart)
  • Specific skills or abilities
  • Personal temperament
  • Life experiences
  • Gender
  • Cultural/racial/ethnic background
  • Religious affiliation