We are excited to share that in 2018, our Peer Mentoring program is growing and expanding in many directions. Last year, we were busy working out the kinks and developing the finished product of our very first state-customized course. We created a polished, user-friendly course and made it available through BlackBoard Collaborative’s Moodle Room as a way to train and educate Peer Mentors, Mentor Coordinators, and other VR professionals on the background, guidelines, and techniques needed to deliver mentoring services in their respective states. Upon completion of the course, participants receive certification based on their achievements.
Once our curriculum gained its foundation, we quickly began adding new elements and tools to our “Moodle Room” – the online platform that hosts our PeerMentoringWorks Online course. Each of our “PMW” courses have been customized with our pilot states in mind. We continue to collaborate with VR leaders across the United States to customize our curriculum to meet individual States’ needs. For instance, for PeerMentoringWorks Online – Alaska, our curriculum needed to work in conjunction with their summer youth program. Due to limited time and connectivity restraints of some of the Alaska participants, the PolicyWorks team developed a 30-minute webinar with the strongest and most influential elements of our 21-hour online training curriculum. The webinar was used as a tool to provide a quicker, downloadable way of reaching people.
Another pilot state implementing our Peer Mentoring program is Florida, where training is underway to deliver the curriculum statewide. Our courses for Florida include additional versions of the Peer Mentor and Project Coordinator courses translated into Spanish to accommodate their high population of Spanish-speaking participants.
Moving forward, we are currently customizing our Peer Mentoring program for Mississippi and Iowa, with plans of launching programs in both states in 2018. Our Peer Mentoring program has also recently expanded beyond the core course to include add-ons such as handbooks created specifically for Peer Mentor Coordinators, Peer Mentors, and Mentees as a way to share additional tools, resources, and guidance in providing mentoring services to youth. Our team is also working on enhancing our curriculum to incorporate a stronger emphasis on self-advocacy. Our programs remain focused on the influence and power of peer mentoring relationships, and we are committed to making our curriculum adaptable to work for an ever-evolving number of purposes and populations.
By Nicona MacDonald and Ciara Calsita, Placement Specialists with the College to Career Transition Program, PolicyWorks