Just like recruiting mentors, it’s important to consider whom you are targeting as mentees and how to best engage them in the program. Successful mentee recruitment means knowing your community and the girls in your community. If you’re unsure about who the girls in your community are, speak with other community members for support and input. Reaching out and connecting to the potential mentees’ parents or guardians, as well as organizations that may be in their personal or professional networks, is just as important as reaching the girls themselves. When planning your recruitment strategy for mentees, consider the following:
Set criteria or guidelines for your target mentees
- It is important to set criteria for mentee eligibility and referral based on your program’s mission, goals and objectives (Sherk, 2006).
- Reflect upon what girls will benefit most from this opportunity. Who are you targeting and what are the program goals?
- If your program is tailored to a specific population, there will be participants with certain characteristics that will likely gain more benefits. This is not intended to be exclusive, rather to ensure girls are getting the most valuable experience possible.
Establish key connections or community partners as referral sources
- Who can help get the word out, especially to any communities your organization is not sufficiently connected with?
- Most group programs receive assistance recruiting mentees from school counsellors, teachers or other community-based organizations (Sherk, 2006). It’s important to share the mentee eligibility criteria with these partners.
- Ensure these partners understand the goals of your program and are connected to diverse groups of girls that reflect your criteria
Develop promotional materials
Avoid adding stigma to participants by using strength-based language. For example, ask community partners to “nominate” girls for the program, rather than “refer.” Promote the program as a “leadership and learning opportunity” rather than a program for girls “at risk”.
- How are you going to get girls excited about this opportunity? What promotional materials can you create to advertise the opportunity?
- Help girls relate to your promotional material by using youth-friendly language, graphics that appeal to girls and images that reflect different ages, sizes, races and abilities.
- Include information in your material that is important to parents/guardians, such as the program’s purpose, objectives and topics.
- Referral forms can be helpful in spreading information about your program. It’s important to note that a family’s right to privacy should also be protected when using referral forms.
It’s imperative to carefully consider how you are going to recruit the right participants for your program. As you develop this plan, review the goals, outcomes and program participants that you have determined earlier.