Future Reflections  Summer 2006

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What is the National Center for Mentoring Excellence Program?

by Amy Phelps, Coordinator

In October of 2004, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute received a five-year model demonstration grant from the U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration to develop a mentoring excellence program. As a result, the National Center for Mentoring Excellence was established to design, develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive national mentoring program to connect young blind people with successful blind adult role models. The ultimate goal of the mentoring program is to not only document the value of a formal mentoring program but to also see a marked increase in positive vocational outcomes and academic success for the participating youth and young adults.

The Nebraska Commission for the Blind and the Louisiana Center for the Blind were chosen as the first two demonstration sites because of their existing working relationship with consumer organizations and their commitment to mentoring as a means to success for transition age young adults. The state coordinators of mentoring, Carlos Serván, Nebraska, and Norma Crosby, Louisiana, began working closely with the National Center for Mentoring Excellence to identify and match mentoring pairs. The young adults who committed to the program range between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six and are blind or visually impaired. These young adults agreed to meet with their mentors monthly for a minimum of eight hours one-to-one and to maintain weekly phone or e-mail contact. In addition to the one-to-one time with mentors, the mentoring pairs will also come together as groups in their respective communities to experience first hand the value of learning from other blind people.

For more information about the mentoring program and ways that families, young people, schools, or agencies can collaborate with the National Federation of the Blind in mentorship projects, please contact Amy Phelps by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2295.

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