Mentor FAQs


 Click here to view Starfish Initiatives' Mentor Brochure


Who can be a mentor?

Any man or woman aged 21 or older with a college education and a desire to help a young person!

Who would I mentor?

An academically-promising high school student who lives in Marion County and is facing unearned adversity. 75% of our scholars will be first-generation college graduates. All mentor and scholar pairs are same gendered matches. 

Why do students need a mentor?

Many students facing adversity cannot get critical, practical information about college and life from home or school. Parents and school personnel are simply too busy or inexperienced to guide students about college, career, and the soft skills necessary to be successful in life. 

What do mentors do?

As a college and career coach, you help students stay on track to graduate from high school and prepare for college by working on resumes, writing professional emails, developing prioritization skills, and having fun! 

What is my time commitment?

Starfish Mentors make a two-year commitment to their Scholar. In those two years, we ask that you and your Scholar meet just twice a month, then call, text, or email once on the “off” weeks. Not bad. A very high percentage of our Mentors ask to remain with their Scholar the second two years of high school – for the big pay off: high school graduation and college entrance!

What does "meet twice a month" mean?

Scholars benefit most from in-person interaction. We offer opportunities to meet face-to-face during our programming events. The very best visits are those when you and your Scholar are alone and can talk about important things: ambition, the future, teenage life, college life. The follow up texts or phone calls we ask you to make reinforce your presence in your Scholar’s life and remind your Scholar that you’ve got their back – that you are a phone call away if they have a question or would like to talk. 

How do I become a mentor?

Simply fill out an application (we’ll run a criminal background check), stop by for a visit to get to know us, and attend a mandatory training session. For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

*** If you do not receive a response to your mentor application submission after 48 hours, please contact Ellen Salmon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ***

What qualities make for a successful mentor?

There are many attributes that can make you a successful mentor. Here are a few of the top qualities we look for:

  • Commitment. Mentoring relationships take time to make a positive impact.

  • Ability to listen. Listen, ask thoughtful questions, and allow students to explore their own thoughts.

  • Empathy. Good mentors can feel for people without feeling pity for them.

  • Problem-solving. Help a student make sense of issues and suggest alternatives; but your student makes the decisions.

  • Flexibility and openness. Good mentors take time to get to know their student and are open to learning about new trends and new technologies.

  • Patience. Allow the student to move through the relationship at their own pace and be patient through the coaching process to help students reevaluate their goals. 

Why is mentoring important?

Students with mentors have:

  • Better school attendance

  • Better attitudes toward school

  • Better chances to attend higher education

  • Less likelihood to begin using drugs

  • More positive social attitudes and relationships


What do I DO with my Scholar?

Do whatever is comfortable and whatever feels right based upon your common interests. (Yes, you will have interests in common with a teenager!) If you both like the arts, track down all the free theater and concerts you can. Sports? Keep your eyes open for emails from us offering tickets that are often donated to us (and act FAST). If you both like the outdoors, go hiking, work in the yard, or hop on a couple bikes. 


Even sitting at Starbucks with a cold or hot drink can amount to an appropriate college access mentoring activity if that Scholar has never been there. We ask our Mentors to expose their Scholar to those things more affluent college students will have experienced. Build their social and cultural capital for college – all the while sharing what you know of the ins and outs of college life. Have fun. Be creative. Talk with other Mentors about what they have done with Scholars.



What are the detailed eligibility requirements to become a Starfish Mentor?

Thank you for your interest in applying to become a Starfish Mentor. Please review the following Starfish Mentor eligibility requirements:

  • I am 21+ years of age with a post-secondary degree
  • I am able to meet with my Scholar 2 times per month
  • I am able to connect via phone, text, email, or social media with my Scholar once a week
  • I have a valid driver's license and valid auto insurance
  • I have reliable transportation with no citations for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, reckless driving, or license suspension for at least 3 years. (If an applicant has a significant history of driving of driving record offenses, it will be at the discretion of the programming staff if the applicant is accepted.) 
  • I have no criminal record involving a violent crime
  • I am able to attend an in-person interview with a Starfish staff member and attend an orientation training
  • I will give consent for Starfish Initiative to complete background, sex offender, and driving record checks
  • I will submit two reference forms (provided by Starfish) by the time of orientation, one personal and one professional
  • I will attend the required orientation/training session and will complete ongoing check-in meetings with Starfish staff
  • I am aware that if not accepted into the program, the reason for not being accepted will not be disclosed to me or a non-Starfish representative