The Buddy Program in Colorado engages in a quality improvement process alongside MENTOR Colorado
Written By: Lindsay Lofaro, Executive Director of The Buddy Program
The Buddy Program is a mentoring organization located on Colorado’s Western Slope that offers four different mentoring programs, including Community-based, School-based, Peer-to-Peer and a Group, Experiential Program for teens. As a local organization without broader affiliates or access to graduate schools, we designed and built our programs and our evaluations from the ground up.
In 2017 the Buddy Program committed to an ongoing quality improvement process for mentoring programs called the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS), which is offered by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and its network of state and local affiliates. The NQMS provides a structured systematic process for assessing the quality of a mentoring program’s practices in alignment with the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM, Fourth Edition, (EEPM).
The Buddy Program underwent an extensive self-assessment survey about their processes and systems for their Community-based Mentoring Program, had an assessment review by MENTOR Colorado, and developed a custom work plan for quality improvement, and went through collaborative technical assistance work with a TA Provider. Through this process we earned the Silver Partner badge, which is an acknowledgement from Mentor Colorado that we are collaboratively engaged in this process. While our mentor recruitment, mentor screening, match making, monitoring and support of matches and match retention all ranked very high, there were needs for improvement in our evaluation of matches. Technical Assistance through Mentor Colorado helped us make these improvements.
In the fall of 2017 we started working with TA Provider Drew DeMarie on assessing our current evaluation plan and survey tools as well as our data analysis system. Through this process Drew looked at our current survey tools and implementation, helped us understand what the data was telling us and how we can get more out of the data to better tell our story. As our TA work continues, we look forward to rewriting our evaluation plan to ensure more accurate and timely survey implementation to our Little Buddies, reassess our data collection methods and systems so that survey data can be useable and understand how we can use this data to improve our programming and enhance our marketing and fundraising plans. According to Drew, “The TA process with the Buddy Program has been delightful! They are transparent, willing to listen and consider changes, dedicated to quality, and really grateful to be a part of the process.”
About the Buddy Program, Drew stated, “It’s great that the Buddy Program, being one of the largest mentoring programs in the state of Colorado, is willing to commit to this important continuous improvement work. It sets an example for all of the other programs to strive for quality.” Our evaluation plan felt like a daunting task to take on, but through Technical Assistance Drew made it simple and helped us understand what was working and what was not and how to make improvements. He took an overwhelming task and made it do-able for our program and staff. This critical support will help us better serve youth in our area as well as improve our marketing and fundraising.
MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) partners with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to deliver the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) to the mentoring field. In addition to convening a Research Board which develops evidence-based reviews about mentoring topics, and offering a comprehensive mentoring resource center website, the NMRC provides mentoring programs nationwide with the opportunity to request and receive no-cost technical assistance to help them more deeply incorporate evidence-based practices into their programming. Once a mentoring program requests technical assistance, their request is assigned to a local or regional technical assistance provider within MENTOR's network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships and TA providers. New and emerging mentoring programs may benefit from technical assistance to help them design and implement programs that meet quality standards as outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, while existing or established programs may utilize TA to improve operations, assess impact, or adapt their program to changing or emerging community needs.