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In 2016 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois partnered with Instituto Del Progresso Latino to help launch the first ever Instituto Scholars Fund. The fund supports the need of low-income students who are enrolled or graduated from Instituto looking to pursue degrees in higher education, but due to gaps in funding sources finishing school might be a challenge. However, BCBSIL realized that although a scholarship is a big aid to help these students accomplish their goals there is more that we can do beyond financial help. Students who are selected for this scholarship will also have the opportunity to participate in a new mentorship program.
What is the Mentorship Program?
By collaborating with the Latinos for Advancement Business Resource Group at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Instituto scholars will have the opportunity to be paired up with mentors from BCBSIL for one year to help them navigate their career paths. The mentor/mentee pairs will be matched based on common interests and the unique needs of the Instituto scholars. The mentorship program will support students in three areas:
The mentor will be there to encourage students stay in college. Instituto has seen that in the first years of a students’ experience in college, many students face challenges that can make them want to take time off or leave altogether. The job of the mentor is to help these students navigate these situations and show them other options. The mentor will show the student supportive relationships to develop problem solving skill development and leadership development opportunities that empower them to practice self-advocacy.
The Career Exploration component’s objective is to guide the student through career research. This means learning more about an industry of their choice, and connecting them with career opportunities. The mentors can offer the students the unique opportunity to their workplace, invite them to a work related event or to introduce them to others in their field of interest. This avenue can allow the mentee to see for themselves if this is the career path they are interested in.
The Network Building component will help the mentee understand how important relationship building is to developing a strong network that can help strengthen their career path. The mentee is encouraged to identify key types of people they feel can help them along their career path.
Benefits of Mentors?
According to the US Department of Education mentoring plays a tremendous role in helping youth develop several strengths and capacities. A student that has a mentor is more likely to retain more of their education, it benefits their health and safety as well as their social and emotional well-being and self-sufficiency. Another factor that was discovered was that counting with mentors from your own community or with a similar background as the students benefits at-risk youth. The support and guidance of individuals in a role our youth can see themselves in can be a great push for students to strive for success. Other positive outcomes include improved school attendance and performance, better parental & peer relationships, and reduced initiation of drug and alcohol use, as well as education, health and safety, and social and behavioral interaction.
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