Youth Mentoring Action Network (YMAN) is a youth-centered program that works to prepare young people for life, college, and career. It’s co-founder, Torie Weiston-Serdan is a scholar-practitioner with over 13 years of teaching and youth programming experience. She’s the author of Critical Mentoring: A Practical Guide. Her mentoring philosophy values equity, and centers young people as partners, not the recipients of mentoring. YMAN is successful by all measures—not just because their students have a 100% high school graduation rate, 98% of those students go to college, and of the students who go to college, 100% of them stay in. But more importantly, the students are teachers and partners in the program’s outcomes.
In this episode of In Times Like These, Weiston-Serdan and board member Rocky Bragg help us understand the power of radical constructivism, why relationship always comes first, and how love has the power to free us.
(Photos Courtesy of Andres Herrera)
Ways to listen to this episode:
In this episode, we discuss:
- Why relationship is the key to successful mentoring and education
- How young people can be our best teachers (if we set aside our need to be in control)
- Why communities only a few miles apart can have massive inequities in access to the resources youth need to be successful in college
- What we can do to be that “one person” who can help a young person succeed
- “Equity is about everyone having a seat at the table.”
Often, the work of mentoring is to provide for some young people access, knowledge, and practice with skills that aren’t available because of differences in community resources and public schools. Equity isn’t the same as equality, but it works to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.Equity is about everyone having a seat at the table. Click To Tweet
2. “Mentoring is not something we do to young people. It’s supposed to be an engaging, collaborative process.”
For some educators and volunteers, adults are the ones with knowledge, and they “give” programming and resources to young people. That attitude keeps youth in a passive position and blocks collaboration and relationship. YMAN works hard to level the playing field between the clients and those providing direct service. Centering youth means that space is shared, which leads to authenticity and transformation. Working with youth instead of “for” youth can take longer, but the outcomes will be stronger.Mentoring is not something we do to young people. It’s supposed to be an engaging, collaborative process.” Listen now: Click To Tweet
3. “The free space that comes when you’re fully loved—you feel anything is possible.”
Why do YMAN’s programs and resources like them have such great outcomes? 100% of students who are supported by YMAN graduate high school. 98% of students who work with YMAN go on to college. And of the YMAN students who go to college, 100% of them stay in college. According to Weiston-Serdan and Bragg, these outcomes are because the students are experience love and support. Weiston-Serdan said, “We know that if every young person has someone who loves them and supports them, then we’re going to have those outcomes.”The free space that comes when you’re fully loved—you feel anything is possible. Click To Tweet
Mentioned on the episode:
- Youth Mentoring Action Network: https://www.yman.org/
- College access program, STEM + Music, youth organizing: https://www.yman.org/programs
- YMAN Partnership with Jordan Wings: https://www.yman.org/blog/yman-partners-with-jordan-wings
- Jordan WINGS youth outreach program: https://news.nike.com/news/jordan-brand-launches-global-wings-program
- Shawn Dove and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement: https://www.blackmaleachievement.org/about/our-team/shawn-dove
- More resources on what equity means in public education:
- “What is ‘equity’ in education?” https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/columnists/geoff-masters/what-is-equity-in-education
- “Equity in education: Where to begin?” https://www.edutopia.org/blog/equity-education-where-to-begin-terry-heick
- More resources on how public schools are funded:
- “How unequal school funding punishes poor kids” https://www.thenation.com/article/how-unequal-school-funding-punishes-poor-kids/
- “Good school, rich school; bad school, poor school” https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/property-taxes-and-unequal-schools/497333/
- Critical Mentoring: A Practical Guide by Torie Weiston-Serdan: https://www.amazon.com/Critical-Mentoring-Practical-Torie-Weiston-Serdan/dp/1620365529
How to connect with us:
Twitter: @ymanstrong and @TWeiston
You can connect with me on Twitter here: @SVarnonHughes.
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About the Podcast
In Times Like These explores the difficult spaces we humans navigate in culture and religion, in dialogue and doubt. We talk to voices from the field, in law, activism, civil rights, and from places of struggle and places of deep learning. In Times Like These, we unpack the most troubling issues of politics and faith we face, together.
In Times Like These is hosted by Dr. Stephanie Varnon-Hughes and is a CLU Live production by Claremont Lincoln University.
Claremont Lincoln University offers socially conscious master’s degree programs in organizational development, public administration, human resources management, healthcare management, higher educational, and social change.