Commitment

I want to be a mentor! What do I do now?

Becoming a mentor is a three-step process.

First, we want to hear from you. Please fill out the inquiry form below to let us know about your interest in becoming a mentor. We will follow up to tell you more about what it means to be a Braid mentor and answer any questions you might have.

Second, we want to train you. Our initial training lasts five hours and includes an introduction to the foster system and how to be an effective mentor. If you are inspired by the training and want to continue, we will ask you to complete a volunteer application, a background check and fingerprinting, and a brief online training on how to protect youth and mentors and promote healthy boundaries.

Finally, we want to match you. We will team you up with two other mentors who will balance you and support you and we’ll match your team with a foster youth who will benefit from your particular skills and interests. Now comes the transformative work of mentoring! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Let’s get started!

Can I take time off?

Being a part of a team of mentors means that your youth will still have adults consistently present in his/her life if you get sick or go on vacation. Communicate with your team members if you will be unable to participate in your scheduled activities. Remember, at least two adults must be present at all times with your youth!

I want to be a mentor, but I’m afraid I don’t have enough time. What is the commitment of being a mentor?

Braid mentors commit to one hour per week in activity with your youth, and at least one meeting per month in reflection with your team. We’re looking for mentors who can commit at least a year to the program.

Mentoring 101

Where does all this mentoring happen?

Your team activities can take place anywhere. Some teams have a regular spot where they meet almost every week (a community garden or a rec center), but others like to plan a different adventure every week. We provide lots of ideas for free and fun activities throughout the Bay Area. Mentor trainings are held at our offices in the Tenderloin.

What is different about mentoring a foster youth than any other youth?

Foster youth are under the care of the State of California and live in a system with many regulations meant to protect them. That’s why we ask you not to participate in one-on-one activities with your youth. We’re also not allowed to share photos of the youth in our mentoring program.

Foster youth often have complicated family situations and tenuous living situations. As a mentor, you’ll need to be sensitive to the complexity of these situations. Your youth may move to different placements several times during your mentoring relationship with him or her. Your youth will need your support and consistency more than ever at these times.

In addition, foster youth have experienced trauma in their lives to varying degrees. Our initial and ongoing training teaches mentors about trauma and its manifestations. We want to equip you with all the tools for understanding and responding to your youth’s behavior.

What does mentoring look like?

Simply spending time with the youth once a week. You’ll be assigned to a team of three; you and your teammates can plan fun activities that suit your interests and personalities.

Who can be a mentor?

You can! We welcome mentors of all ages and backgrounds. Our only requirement is that you want to make a difference in the life of a foster child. We provide extensive training and support to equip you to respond to the needs of your youth.

What is a mentor?

A Braid mentor is someone who is a positive and consistent presence in the life of a child who has been in foster care. It’s not about having all the right answers and advice to give a child. A mentor is someone who shows up, listens patiently, and genuinely cares.

Teams

Can I be on the same team with my friend?

We want our mentoring teams to be as intergenerational and diverse as possible, with a mix of genders and ages. For this reason, we need you to be flexible in allowing us to create teams that will best serve our youth.

How do the teams work?

After you become a Braid mentor, the first thing you’ll do is meet your teammates. You’ll spend some time getting to know each other, sharing your gifts and strengths and building rapport.

Each team will be assigned a trained facilitator. Your facilitator will handle the logistics of your weekly meetings and will the primary contact with the youth’s caregivers. This frees you as a mentor to keep your primary relationship with the youth, without involvement in the dynamics of his or her home life.

At your monthly (or more frequent) team gatherings, your facilitator will help you reflect on the joys and challenges of working with your youth. You have the freedom to figure out when you want to meet for those regular team debriefs.

Your team can plan your own outings and activities with your youth. Because your youth is under the care and regulations of the State of California’s foster system, at least two team members must be present at all times to avoid being one-on-one with the youth.

Our hope is that you will build friendships, have fun, and find a community of support within your team. You are never alone in the work of mentoring!

Why do I need to be on a team?

By being on a team, you’re ensuring that there is a consistent adult presence surrounding youth who have watched many adults disappear from their lives.

And as a team, you have the freedom and flexibility to figure out how you can best work together toward the same goal: supporting your youth. You are not alone! Your team has your back when things come up unexpectedly and you can’t make it to an activity with your youth. Your team is also your support system as you venture together into the transformative work of mentoring.

Teams: Facilitators

What does the team facilitator do?

Each mentor team has a facilitator who will handle the logistics of your weekly meetings and will be the primary contact with the youth’s caregivers. This frees you as a mentor to keep your primary relationship with the youth, without involvement in the dynamics of his or her home life. Your facilitator will also draw your team together for your monthly check-in meetings.

What is the time commitment for a team facilitator?

Facilitators spend approximately an hour a week communicating with a youth’s caregiver and with their team to check in and set up the team’s weekly visits. They also gather their team for a monthly meeting that lasts about an hour. We host a weekly conference call (30-60 minutes) for facilitators to share best practices and talk through any challenges their teams are facing. Some facilitators may also be invited to attend wraparound meetings for their team’s youth.

Do I have to live in San Francisco to be a team facilitator?

No! Most of the work of a team facilitator can happen from anywhere via internet and phone. You only need to be able to get to San Francisco once a month for your monthly team meeting.

How can I find out more about being a team facilitator?

Please fill out the interest form at the bottom of this page and include a note letting us know that you’re interested in the facilitator role.