Five high schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas are participating in an e-mentoring program, operated through Big Brothers Big Sisters, in which local professionals are more easily able to interact with students. Now, there are plans to expand the mentor2.0 program, which launched in September, to Houston. “This program is speeding up that whole process of getting to know someone,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters’ marketing director, Dan Stuchal. “The kids are so comfortable with this digital environment that they open up more quickly.” 

Life moves so fast nowadays. Sometimes you want to help others, but you just don’t have the time.

Trina George was like that. A manager for Allstate Insurance in Irving, she had her own kids to raise and higher education to pursue. How could she possibly have time to mentor anyone?

Mentor2.0, a program from Big Brothers Big Sisters, uses technology to power online-based mentoring relationships, a growing practice that frees busy professionals from the demands of more typical face-to-face interaction.

“For me, having a family, working full time and getting a master’s, this is doable,” said George, now matched with a freshman at Kimball High School in Dallas. “We can talk as often as we need to.”

The success of such programs is prompting mentoring experts to rethink traditional models.

“Today’s youth are so used to communicating online,” said Frank Linnehan, interim dean at Drexel University’s business school and co-author of a study on e-mentoring.

“E-mentoring may not have worked 10 years ago, but that environment now is much more comfortable for youth.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentor2.0 program, which launched in September, now oversees about 300 partnerships at five high schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with plans to expand to Houston.

Students and mentors trade monitored emails weekly, prompted by questions about college or workforce readiness.

Continue reading how e-mentoring connects high school students with professionals.

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