How to start a girls mentoring program

girls mentoring programAs the founder of Girls Can’t WHAT?, I am frequently asked about the best way to start a girls mentoring program.

First, I’d like to say that there can never be too many organizations that support girls. The need for positive role models and guidance is big enough for everyone to get involved. Here are some great tips for starting a mentoring program for girls of any age.

Be THAT type of girls mentoring program

Just as every girl is different, every organization is different. This is why some groups appeal to certain types girls but not others. That is perfectly ok. When starting your group, don’t try to be all things to all people. Find something that you do well and thoroughly enjoy.

Focus around a specific topic or niche so it will be clear to everyone what type of girls mentoring program you are establishing. A great example is Girls on the Run where their mission is to get girls involved in fitness. Find that one thing and do it well.

Learn your personal strength

Knowing what it is that you do best is going to be crucial to your success. If you don’t like public speaking, don’t try to sell yourself as a speaker or plan events that involve talking in front of people. Stick to your personal gifts.

You may need to try on a few hats to discover what you really like to do and what you’re good at naturally. Once you have that nailed down, work on developing that skill so you can be the best. Your super power will be what attracts your community and the better you are, the more effective your teaching will be.

Build a team

As a group leader, you won’t accomplish as much as you could with a good team. Take your time and build your team slowly and deliberately. Make sure your team members share your vision and goals.

Your team leaders should also complement your strength. They should excel at something you don’t. Look for people that can fill in the weak spots of your organization and give them an opportunity to shine in their own way. Future leaders can be developed through your program. Look for members with the skills you need to fill and train them for leadership roles.

Where to start

Starting your own mentoring group will take a lot of work up front before you even have your first meeting. The first thing you need to do is write down your vision of what you want to achieve. Do this in as much detail as you can. It will help your brain form the action steps and give you a clear mental picture of your goal.

The next step is to write a detailed description of the person you are wanting to mentor. Write about her physical description, her education, where she lives, what she likes to do, etc. The clearer you can get on building a profile of the girl you want to mentor, the easier it will be to find ways to reach her.

The next step in your research will be determining the type of group you will form and how you will connect. The member profile you just created will be a huge help here. You may want to form a social media group, organize a meet up or partner with a local school or civic group.

Also, map out your first meeting by determining how you want it to work. Think about where you want to meet and how often. Planning this step will help you manage your time and the logistics of finding a location or working with another organization. This step may be time consuming and frustrating but it will save you a lot of headaches when you’re ready to get started.

Budget your money

Nothing comes for free. Many people who start community groups end up paying for a lot of the expenses personally. It ends up draining them financially and they start to resent the very organization they started. No matter how generous you think you are, don’t try to cover all of the costs yourself.

Avoid debt by building a budget and tracking your expenses. Even though you aren’t out to make money, treat your group as a business. If you are charging a membership fee or selling additional services to help cover costs, you may want to check in with an accountant to make sure you have all the proper paperwork filed.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask your group members to help share costs. Ask for volunteers to bring refreshments or donate their time to help with meeting prep or other services. People are usually willing to help, but most need to be prompted to take action. Don’t be bashful. You can’t do everything yourself!

Budget your time

Your time is valuable resource. It has limits. When planning your girls mentoring program, make sure you leave enough time to comfortably manage your job, your family and other leisure activities. Passion, combined with volunteer work will eat up your days if you let it.

Budget your time just as you would your money. Make sure you are delegating tasks when possible and give yourself plenty of time to plan. Disorganization leads to wasted time and resources. Structured events and meetings with a clear agenda will keep you on track and keep your members engaged. Look for ways to save yourself time by outsourcing tasks and putting a stop to busy work that produces very little benefit.

Start small

No matter how big you dream, you have to start small. When starting a mentoring group, take things slowly and focus on building relationships. You will only be able to connect with a small number of people personally.

You will find that if you invest in a few people in the beginning, they will grow with you and be there to help support the group as it grows. You have to build that foundation first in order to scale up.

Have fun

Above all, make the group enjoyable for all and that includes you. If you’re not having fun, chances are it shows and that spoils it for everyone else. If you start to burn out, take a breather and give yourself time to re-focus. Make fun and happiness a priority. You will avoid burnout and naturally attract new members who share your enthusiasm.

I hope you find these ideas helpful when starting your mentoring group. If you haven’t downloaded our guide on “How to set amazing goals and achieve them”, click here to grab your copy and use it to help you with the planning stages.

If you have experience as a group leader or you have a great idea to help those looking to start a group, I’d love to hear it. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

37 Comments

  1. LaToya jackson on October 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Hello ,my is name is LaToya Jackson . I have worked with boys an girls in various ages . I have desire to wanting to start my very own female mentor group for girls . I have also manged an day to day Residential Program for pregnate teen age girls . Now after working in that field for years , I was the drive an the Go to get started. If there is any information that I can get from you to help me stare in the right path.My vision is assist an help deveopled an partnership with various business an organization to help girls complete there education goals and to also provide them with the basic goals of independent living.

    LaToya Jackson

    • gretchen on October 13, 2014 at 8:46 am

      Hi LaToya – if I were you, I would probably start by checking at the library to see if they allow you to host mentoring groups there or if they can connect you with someone that can help.

      Also, try a local church or community group to see if they would be interested in partnering with you. If you have a local Girl Scout troop, they might also make a good partner for different activities.

  2. Tierra on April 8, 2016 at 12:40 am

    Hello, my name is Tierra Ruff. I’m 27 years old. I reside in the Kansas City metropolitan area where there aren’t very many activities for children. I have four children myself and if it wasn’t for my ability to create fun activities they would be extremely bored and I’m afraid if something don’t change just like many children in my area they fall subject to the streets. I love children. I have never personally head a job in helping or mentoring children. I have a rather large family and I’m their safe haven. Anyways I wanted to start doe kind of enrichment camp. My audience will be ages 8-14. I wanted to do boys considering I have three but I think girls are more approachable and I figured hey if it turns out successful it could grow to the boys and maybe my husband will want in on the project. (?) I want to start off small. Maybe once a week for the summer. Maybe you could point me in the direction that no need to go to. I’m very afraid of failing. And I looked at my 9 year old daughter yesterday and thought to myself. My goodness I have to do something to make a change. Any advice you can give me to point me in the right direction will definitely do me some good. Thanks in advance

    • gretchen on April 8, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Tierra – I would start off my researching existing programs (Scout Troops, Big Brother/Big Sister) that allow you to start a chapter in your area. Usually, those organizations provide training and materials so you can have structure and a solid foundation to start on. Also, the name recognition of those programs would establish trust and help you grow your group more quickly. Thank you for wanting to provide good role models in your community!

  3. Desiree on May 6, 2016 at 2:45 am

    Hello My name is Desiree. I have been working with youth and teenage at- risk youth for as long as I can remember. I want to start my own community based impact mentoring group with girls and boys. I want to focus on middle school age kids. I have been doing some research and still have a lot of unanswered questions. Where is a good starting point to get this passion from my heart to reality? I know this is something I want to do and I know I have the power to impact lives but I don’t want to fail. I love your point about starting off small and working my way up. Eventually I want to have my own Mentoring and Life Skills Center. I just need a play by play handbook on how to start. Any information would be amazing to have.

    • gretchen on May 6, 2016 at 7:33 am

      Hi Desiree – what programs have you been involved with so far? Do any of them interest you enough to start your own chapter? That might be a good jumping off point and help you build up some skills and ideas for leading your own group.

  4. Tynaecia on May 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Hi, my name is Nacie . I’m very interested in starting a mentoring group geared towards girls who face bullying, cyberbullying, self esteem issues, etc. I live in a city where there is a lot of violent things going on & I just would like to something positive for the youth to participate in & feel they are safe & cared for. I have written notebooks of my ideas & what I’m aiming to do with the group but, where do I start? Do I need to fill out any legal documents just for a mentoring group? Do I need to file the name? I’m really confused.

    • Kara on June 15, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      Maxie,I want to have the same type of mentoring program! Have you started?

      • Angela on August 29, 2017 at 10:33 pm

        I have the same question. My 19 year old daughter and my 11 year old daughter are in on this with me.

  5. Cre Smith on July 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Hello my name is Cre Smith,
    Me and my best friend have recently sparked up a conversation of what we could do to help young women in the area we grew up in…We are trying to start a mentoring program (small group initially) for young women to find their purpose. We want to connect with them on levels such as confidence, religion, sports, education, employment etc. We are looking to start something like this in Fort Wayne, IN. I have done some research and it doesn’t appear that Fort Wayne has much to offer when it comes to developing young women. I was wondering where to even begin as this was just a thought, but now something we want to genuinely do and put into action for our community.

    • Deshunna on September 13, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Cre! This is something like what I want to do. Finding their God-giving purpose in this world. Teaching them to be confident, while also helping other, educated, life-skills such as credit and paying bills. Most importantly, teaching them to put God first and the importance of prayer! Did you start your group yet? Any tips?

      • Brandi Marsh on December 20, 2017 at 4:27 pm

        Hi Ladies, my name is Brandi marsh and I live in the Los Angeles area, starting non profit young girls called ebony and pink pearls, mission empower young women to konw thier purpose in God, honor purity and seek GOd in prayer daily. Lets definitely stay connected.

  6. Nyeletie on July 9, 2016 at 1:00 am

    Hi, I’m Nyeletie. I’ve also started a girls programme called ‘young women with purpose’ recently. I have tried to reach out to them through distributing letters to different churches around here, but they don’t pitch to the meetings when I say we are meeting. what should I do to attract them or to make them feel interested to come? l have arranged two or three meetings before with them but very few less than ten people came. N.B this programme it is not for Christians only, but every young lady who we will be able to reach us. please help.

    • gretchen on July 24, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Churches tend to want to do things internally and usually have their own groups so they may see you as competition. Look for community groups… check and see what groups meet at your local library or community center and try connecting with those. Also, places like the YMCA or Girl Scout troops.

  7. SheAnna Hammock on July 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Hello my name is SheAnna…I am 14 years old…with the help of my mother and an already non profit licensed women organization I want to start a girls group called
    , “Saving My Sisters” I want it to be an organization to help keep girls off the streets by learning how to start businesses, helping charities, educational mentoring, helping less fortunate, taking care of your bodies and much more. Saving my sisters are geared to teen girls that’s less fortunate and need a push in the right direction. I have a licensed organization that want to pull me under their wing and I want to know your thoughts on that?? Thank you SheAnna Hammock

    • gretchen on July 24, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Hi Sheanna – I think you should take that organization up on their offer. You’ll gain some good experience and make some networking connections that will help you in the future should you decide to pursue your own group.

    • Marie on December 6, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Dear SheAnna Hapmmock,

      I really enjoyed reading your Organizational Vision. Your idea is brilliant and doing good things for others will definitely have it rewards. Keep moving forward and good luck on your “Saving my Sisters” endevour.

      Kindest Regards,
      Ms Marie, MSOL

  8. Oluremi Ojo on August 22, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Thanks for the information. My name is Oluremi Ojo. Want to start a girls mentoring program tagged ‘Life School’ . It’s a kind of a gap programme for girls just leaving secondary school. Focus Will be on Entrepreneurship and community service.

    • Misspowers foundation on August 15, 2017 at 8:13 am

      Hello Oluremi,from your name i see you are Nigerian.we should work together sister as we have similar visions.i need to speak witj someone who understands how our communities are here…

      • Joyce on October 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        Hello Remi
        I’m planning on similar girls mentoring group. Have you started? I would like us to have a chat to exchange progressive ideas. Misspowers pls the above message applies to you too.

      • Hope on February 24, 2018 at 8:20 am

        Hello misspowers,have you started your forum yet?
        I need a headstart,i will love to start a mentoring forum for teenage boys and girls,in northern Nigeria.

  9. Dawn Cooper on September 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Hi my name is Dawn. I am currently a praise dance leader at my church. I have three groups that I work with two girls groups 12 and under and another that is 13 to 18 I also teach mime dance to the boys. I have a deep passion for my teen girls because I know that they go through a lot of emotional changes at this age. I was looking to start a mentor dance program in my community that allows teenage girls to use dance to release their emotions.

  10. Angela Owens on October 20, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Hello my name is Angela and I live in Smyrna TN. I would like to open up a house for young lady from 18 to 25 year’s old. Who are trouble young ladies and having a hard time facing life on life term. Also I would like the house help trouble teens as well from 13 years old 17 year old they just come during the time from 12 noon until 9pm nothing over night. We are try to find a house now and get a few staff members . Can you please let me know what else to do.

  11. Andrea on November 18, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Hello I am interested in starting a girls group to help the less fortunate girls mainly in single parent homes with life skills, education, support to live a healthy life. My focus is datherless girls. I have so many questions but first how can I get funding i.e. Grants? Any information is greatly appreciated.

  12. Zaria on November 24, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Hi come support my small Girls Center link down below
    http://www.gofundme.com/girl-center

  13. Nia Calhoun on November 30, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    Hello,

    My name is Nia and I am interesting in starting a mentoring group that targets young teenage girls & women who are missing their daddy. I notice a lot of women who have grown up without a father figure in their life tends to go searching for that security into our relationships, which most of the time may not be a good thing. I grew up without a father in my life and I know how it feel to be without that father figure in the home that supposed to love & protect his child . So I wanted to come to some point in my life where I can share my experience and help other girls and women that is currently seeking instructions on how to manage with out their father in their life. Can you guide me on where to begin?

    Thanks
    Nia

    • Zaza Farrell on August 8, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      Hi NIA

      Have you started your program yet? Where are you located?

  14. Ty on January 4, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    Happy New Year! I am interested in starting group mentoring girls. Typically when starting a non profit, it has to be established for a certain period of time prior to qualifying for federal grants. Do you know what the time-frame is?

  15. Henrietta Nwamaka Ajusah on April 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

    My name is Henrietta Ajusah, as I child I grew up without the love of a mother,especially what it takes to feel motherly love. I have to love my children so dearly that I now know that a lot of children out there especially the girl child needed to be loved and cared for. And so I want to start a friendly and a mentoring class, strictly for the girl child. Although, I have been visiting schools addressing only the girls to boost their self esteem and intergrity. What else can I do to be a TRUE FRIEND to these girls?

  16. Kevin Williams on May 23, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Hi, I’m Kevin. I’m 49 married and the father of a son and two daughters. I coach volleyball and softball at the local highschool and I have mentored a lot of girls throughout the 15 years I’ve coached. I have a place at my house we call the back porch where girls will come with their problems and we sit for hours and open up and just talk things over. God has blessed me, I believe with a gift to talk to and guide a lot if these young ladies. I have adopted two of them, not legally yet, and they are now my daughters 3 and 4. Their dads are not in their lives at all. Anyway I love doing it and helping and making a positive difference. I’m interested in knowing how my wife and I can start a Mentoring and Life Service Center or a group home for teen girls. We have no money and no credit at all..is there any type of government financed program out there to get this ball rolling? Thank you

  17. Bertha Katjijova on September 25, 2017 at 3:24 am

    Hi my name is Bertha I have obtain a Commonwealth Diploma in youth development and would like start a girls programs.
    Mostly in rural areas ,girls from troubled backgrounds,motivating and helping girls with low self-esteem and much more to help shape their future.

    Please help me on how to put it in a proposal because I need to get the program registered.
    Thanks Bertha
    Namibia ( Africa )

  18. Bertha Katjijova on September 25, 2017 at 3:27 am

    waiting for my replay.
    Thanks

  19. Rosalyn Parks on September 28, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Hi my name is Rosalyn I like to start a young girls group, I would like to I would like for girls to know their self worth, I would like for them to know step by step how to overcome different situations that comes up as they get older, I am a mother of three children, just want to take this opportunity to give back because I didn’t have a role models in my life to help me overcome different obstacles…

  20. Ashley Alexander on November 6, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Hello,

    My name is Ashley, I’m 30 yrs old, Single mother of a 9 yr old daughter. God has been really dealing with my heart about starting a non-profit organization. Specifically, mentoring young females. I would like to start a spiritual- biblical focused program. I’m feeling very overwhelmed because I don’t quite know where to began. Does anyone have any suggestions??? I would really appreciate your feedback.

    Thank you

  21. LaLa on November 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    Hi,
    I am so happy to come across your website. I am a teacher (20+ years) and I am finally about to start a mentoring program outside of my school. Tell me, should I plan to make it a non profit or for business. This has been my BV biggest dilemma. Help! I feel that by doing one or the other I will have some protection over my intellectual property and ideas because often what is created for schools,/districts become theirs.
    Thank you,

  22. May on January 10, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    Hello, do you have to be certified or have a degree to start a girls/women group?

  23. Rato on February 22, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Hi I’m rato I would love your input in me giving back to the community at a very early age of my life I had to learn the hard way so now I’m determined that I want to help the young girls…..there for I want to know does the government help in funding organization I need your help to give me a way forward thank you

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