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Become a Volunteer Mentor Apply Now

Please note: at this time, we are unable to match every volunteer applicant with a mentee due to limited resources. We will keep your application on file and reach to those who best meet the criteria for our students and program needs. Please consider donating to RYP directly or starting a fundraiser on Facebook so we can increase our capacity!

Have you been looking for a meaningful way to serve others in your community?


 If you are an adult, age 21 or over, consider becoming a mentor to a refugee youth or family in Baltimore City or County.

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The BCCC Refugee Youth Project has two mentoring programs: one that matches caring individuals one-on-one with youth or a set of siblings, and another that connects female tutors with single or stay-at-home mothers in need of extra support.

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The main refugee populations we serve are from Burma, Bhutan, Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, and Sudan.  We recruit and train volunteer mentors year-round because new families arrive every month.

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Our program is home-based, meaning that mentors need to travel to the residence of a family each week.  Having a car is not required but most mentors find it helpful.

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You don’t need to speak another language to participate! One of our goal is to help increase the English proficiency of the families we work with. You don’t need to be a native English speaker, either–some of our best mentors have learned English as a foreign or native language.

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We need youth mentors to commit to meeting their mentees for two hours per week for at least 9 months, but one year or more is preferred! Adult tutors also need to make a commitment of at least 6 months.

Not the right fit?

You can still be a part of RYP by becoming an after-school tutor, checking out our other volunteer and internship opportunities, supporting us through a monetary or in-kind gift, or sharing what you think on through social media!

Are you a college student? Refugee Youth Project’s College JUMP (Journey Upward Mentoring Program) was created in 2015 through a partnership between the BCCC Refugee Youth Project and University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in response to the need RYP staff saw among its students for more college preparation. Undergraduate students volunteer as near-peer mentors to 11th and 12th grade refugee students in Baltimore City and County. If you are a local university student that wants to help students with college access, please email rypcollegejump@gmail.com for more information.

Need more convincing?

More details below:

The Need

The refugee or asylee youth referred for RYP’s mentoring programs are often in need of additional social, academic, or emotional support to adjust to their new lives in the US, or they may live farther away from our current after-school program sites.

The mothers that are referred to our program may be unable to attend English classes due to childcare restraints, or they might be identified as being particularly vulnerable/high-needs by a caseworker from the International Rescue Committee.

Your Role

Mentors have an opportunity to play a role that truly benefits the refugee youth and mothers that we serve—first and foremost by providing reliable friendship and support to a family for a period of nine months or more.

Youth mentors typically engage in activities such as tutoring, homework help, and field trips to explore Baltimore.

Adult tutors usually assist with English language practice through planned lessons, employment assistance, bus orientations, or accessing local resources like libraries and grocery stores. 

All mentors help their mentees by creating wider social networks of community members who care about people from refugee backgrounds. RYP hosts monthly or bi-monthly get-togethers for mentors and mentees, too!

Flexible Schedule

Both programs are ideal for working professionals who can’t volunteer at our after-school programs due to timing—many mentors meet with their mentees in the evenings or on the weekends.

Adult tutors may be able to meet with their mentees on weekday mornings or afternoons as well.

Meeting Locations

Most of the refugee families served by RYP’s programs live in the Moravia/Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore (zip code 21206) or in Arbutus/Catonsville (zip code 21229), but occasionally there are families in Dundalk, Middle River, Essex, or Columbia that are referred by IRC caseworkers or teachers. RYP will take your location into account when making a mentoring match. Mentors meet at the family’s home but can do planned outside activities with parental permission.

Make an Impact

There are always new families arriving in Baltimore that are grateful for the help and welcoming smile of a caring volunteer!  Mentors often end up benefitting just as much from this volunteer experience as their mentees do: mentors ultimately learn about the language, customs and traditions of their mentees at the same time they’re teaching about American culture.  Moreover, many mentors experience their own personal growth while helping a mentee explore and achieve his or her goals.

Mentoring a refugee family is a unique chance to work with an incredibly resilient international population at a local level, and we hope you can become a part of a refugee’s successful acculturation as they start their lives in Baltimore.

I loved working with my mentee family. [The kids] were amazing and their mother is so invested in helping them. I have volunteered a lot throughout my life in a variety of different settings and this was one of my most rewarding experiences. I felt like I really made a difference in this family’s overall adjustment to their new life.

Sign me up!

Let's go.

Youth Mentors

Duties/Responsibilities

  • Assist a refugee/asylee student (or set of siblings) with homework, test preparation, and school projects; in some cases, build student proficiency and understanding of English
  • Serve as a positive role model, guide, teacher, and advocate
  • Plan and participate in enriching activities with mentee(s)
  • Help youth with goal setting and acculturation
  • Familiarize student(s) and family with American school system
  • Meet one day per week for two hours, not including travel time to/from your mentee’s home, for at least nine months
  • Follow mentor program policies and procedures, including confidentiality and mandated reporting requirements
  • Commit to regular check-ins with RYP staff about student progress and submit monthly reports of activities and hours served

 

Requirements

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must be available for at least nine months (preferably one year) following the completion of the application process and being matched with a family
  • Must complete an in-person pre-placement interview to assess suitability for mentoring
  • Must attend a mentor orientation
  • Must have a clean criminal history and pass a fingerprint-supported background check
    • RYP is part of the Maryland Mentoring Partnership, which allows mentors to obtain a state and FBI background check for a discounted rate at state-operated fingerprinting facilities.  Mentors will receive a discount card in person at a mentor interview or an orientation.  Cards can also be mailed to you.
    • Note: if you have received a fingerprinted-supported background check in the last 365 days, you do not have to complete this process again.  Instead, you are encouraged to submit this form to CJIS.

 

 

Desirable Qualities

  • Ability to work independently
  • Patience, flexibility, persistence, creativity and reliability
  • Interest in learning about resettlement and refugee issues, including ethnic backgrounds of clients
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English. 
    • Additional fluency in a refugee language (e.g. Nepali, Tigrinya, Arabic, Burmese and/or Chin dialects, Kinyarwanda) is a bonus, but not required
  • Means of private transportation is preferred, but not required

 

Benefits

  • Learn about other cultures and countries
  • Participate in events and trips organized by RYP
  • Meet like-minded community members through volunteer meetings and events
  • Make a meaningful impact in the life of a young person

 

Orientation and Training:

  • New mentors must attend a 3-hour mentor orientation at the Baltimore Resettlement Center (3516 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224).  Topics include: refugee definitions and resettlement, mentor roles and responsibilities, and techniques for working with English language learners.
  • Orientations are typically held on the third Monday of each month from 6-9 p.m, but you can request a separate meeting time if you are unavailable on Monday evenings. Orientation details will be given to you after you complete your volunteer interview.
  • Throughout the school year, the Refugee Youth Project offers additional training on topics relevant to mentoring newcomers. We also host social events for mentors, mentees, and volunteers.

 

 

 

 

How to Become a Youth Mentor:

  1. Visit our volunteer interest form and submit it to let us know that you would like to be considered for a mentoring position.
  2. An RYP staff member will contact you for an interview to determine your fit for the program and to learn more about your match preferences.  If you plan to transport your mentees in your vehicle, please bring a copy of your drivers license and insurance card.
  3. We will invite you to complete a fingerprint-supported background check and attend a new mentor orientation.
  4. Once each piece of this application process is complete, we will extend our formal offer for you accept this volunteer position.

For questions about this process, please contact rypvolunteerspecialist@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Do I need to speak another language to participate?

Since volunteers are working with students to help increase their English proficiency, you do not need to speak any language other than English to be a good mentor. It’s more important for mentors to be willing to work with learners of all English abilities and to be patient in the process—we need empathetic volunteers who are willing to put themselves in the learner’s shoes! If you do speak a language other than English (particularly Arabic, Nepali, Tigrinya, Kinyarwanda/Swahili, Burmese, or Chin), that’s a bonus but it’s not required. If you aren’t a native English speaker, that’s fine too—we just ask that you’re fluent in order to best serve our students.

What about transportation?

All volunteers must travel to and from sites via their own means of transportation. It is not required to have a car but most find it helpful for getting to the state-operated fingerprinting facility for background checks as well as traveling to/from your mentee’s home.

How long does it take to start working with a family?

This depends on a number of factors! Some of it is timing—like how soon the next orientation is, or interview availability—but it also could depend on which client referrals are a suitable match for your preferences and our needs. The results from fingerprinting are usually available within three days of your visit to the facility.

Is it okay if I have a vacation planned during my mentoring time, or if I have to travel occasionally for work? What if I have a variable schedule and can meet regularly, but not at the same time every week?

We realize that you have lives outside of volunteering! It’s fine if you need to miss a meeting or two because of other obligations—RYP simply asks that you communicate this to us as well as your mentee family ahead of time. Regarding the variable schedule, this usually doesn’t pose a problem for RYP but you may find it harder to connect with your mentee as much as you’d wish. We find that a regular schedule and structure is more conducive to meeting.

What kind of volunteers are you looking for?

We are looking for mentors that are dedicated, consistent, creative, and persistent. Many of the families that we work with have experienced a lot of upheaval in their lives and we ask that mentors truly commit to working with the youth or mothers.

We are also looking for mentors who have good boundaries and can help a family achieve self-sufficiency!

 

 

Tutor a Single or Stay-at-home Mother

Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Provide friendship and support to a single or stay-at-home mother through practicing conversational English
  • Encourage self-sufficiency by preparing for employment, conducting bus orientations, or accessing local resources like the library or grocery store
  • Serve as a guide, teacher, resource broker, and advocate
  • Help with personal, educational, and career goal setting if appropriate
  • Plan and participate in enriching activities
  • Assist in familiarizing family with American school system
  • Meet weekly for two hours each time, not including travel time to/from home, for at least six months
  • Follow mentor program policies and procedures, including confidentiality and mandated reporting requirements
  • Commit to regular check-ins with RYP staff about mentee progress and submit monthly reports of activities and hours served

Requirements:

  • Must be female
  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Must be available for at least 6 months (preferably 9 months), following the completion of the application process and being matched with a family
  • Must complete a pre-placement interview to assess suitability for mentoring
  • Must attend mentor orientation
  • Must have a clean criminal history and pass a fingerprint-supported background check.
    • RYP is part of the Maryland Mentoring Partnership, which allows mentors to obtain a state and FBI background check for a discounted rate at state-operated fingerprinting facilities.  Mentors will receive a discount card in person at a mentor interview or an orientation.  Cards can also be mailed to you.
    • Note: if you have received a fingerprinted-supported background check in the last 365 days, you do not have to complete this process again.  Instead, you are encouraged to submit this form to CJIS.

Desirable Qualities:

  • Ability to work independently
  • Patience, flexibility, persistence, creativity and reliability
  • Interest in learning about resettlement and refugee issues, including ethnic backgrounds of clients
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively in English. 
    • Additional fluency in a refugee language (e.g. Nepali, Tigrinya, Arabic, Burmese and/or Chin dialects, Kinyarwanda) is a bonus not required
  • Means of private transportation is preferred but not required
  • Prior experience teaching English preferred but not required

Benefits

  • Learn about other cultures and countries
  • Participate in events and trips organized by RYP
  • Meet like-minded community members through volunteer meetings and events

Orientation and Training:

  • New mentors must attend a 3-hour mentor orientation at the Baltimore Resettlement Center (3516 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224).  Topics include: refugee definitions and resettlement, mentor roles and responsibilities, and techniques for working with English language learners.
  • Orientations are typically held on the third Monday of each month from 6-9 p.m, but you can request a separate meeting time if you are unavailable on Monday evenings. Orientation details will be given to you after you complete your volunteer interview.
  • Throughout the school year, the Refugee Youth Project offers additional training on topics relevant to mentoring newcomers. We also host social events for mentors, mentees, and volunteers.

How to Become a Single or Stay-at-Home Mother Tutor:

  1. Visit our volunteer interest form and submit it to let us know that you would like to be considered for a mentoring position.
  2. An RYP staff member will contact you for an interview to determine your fit for the program and to learn more about your match preferences. If you plan to transport your mentees in your vehicle, please bring a copy of your drivers license and insurance card.
  3. We will invite you to complete a fingerprint-supported background check and attend a new mentor orientation.
  4. Once each piece of this application process is complete, we will extend our formal offer for you accept this volunteer position.

For questions about this process, please contact rypvolunteerspecialist@gmail.com.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to speak another language to participate?

Since volunteers are working with students to help increase their English proficiency, you do not need to speak any language other than English to be a good mentor. It’s more important for mentors to be willing to work with learners of all English abilities and to be patient in the process—we need empathetic volunteers who are willing to put themselves in the learner’s shoes! If you do speak a language other than English (particularly Arabic, Nepali, Tigrinya, Kinyarwanda/Swahili, Burmese, or Chin), that’s a bonus but it’s not required. If you aren’t a native English speaker, that’s fine too—we just ask that you’re fluent in order to best serve our students.

What about transportation?

All volunteers must travel to and from sites via their own means of transportation. It is not required to have a car but most find it helpful for getting to the state-operated fingerprinting facility for background checks as well as traveling to/from your mentee’s home.

How long does it take to start working with a family?

This depends on a number of factors! Some of it is timing—like how soon the next orientation is, or interview availability—but it also could depend on which client referrals are a suitable match for your preferences and our needs. The results from fingerprinting are usually available within three days of your visit to the facility.

Is it okay if I have a vacation planned during my mentoring time, or if I have to travel occasionally for work? What if I have a variable schedule and can meet regularly, but not at the same time every week?

We realize that you have lives outside of volunteering! It’s fine if you need to miss a meeting or two because of other obligations—RYP simply asks that you communicate this to us as well as your mentee family ahead of time. Regarding the variable schedule, this usually doesn’t pose a problem for RYP but you may find it harder to connect with your mentee as much as you’d wish. We find that a regular schedule and structure is more conducive to meeting.

What kind of volunteers are you looking for?

We are looking for mentors that are dedicated, consistent, creative, and persistent. Many of the families that we work with have experienced a lot of upheaval in their lives and we ask that mentors truly commit to working with the youth or mothers.

We are also looking for mentors who have good boundaries and can help a family achieve self-sufficiency!

 

Ready to go?

Apply