My Column for College Students: Networking For The Game Changing Internship!

jet logoStudent-talking-to-professor

College Students!  Hang out with me on “The Yard!”  I’m extending my mentoring base to include undergraduate college students! My new bi-weekly column, “The Yard”, is on and aims to help undergraduates excel in their studies and social lives. Spread the word & check out my article here! 

Today I’m sharing with you how Rick Ross, Wacka Flocka, and Jay-Z all are crucial to your successful education yes, I’m serious! LOL!


Stephen Powell of Mentoring USA: This Month’s “Social Service Samurai”

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In Chicago, during the month of February, the mentoring group I founded, Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program  we celebrate “Men’s Month.”  We started our men’s month initiative 4 years ago, because too many of our girls do not have positive male role models in their daily lives, and we wanted to provide ways for girls to interact with positive men in their communities.  To that end, our girls participate in open forums with men within our network of volunteers to learn about their personal, professional, and childhood experiences.  And, we host a non-traditional Daddy Daughter Dance where every girl, regardless if her dad is in her life or not, she’s represented and supported by a “volunteer dad” for that day.  (Click here for more pictures).

Officer giving out roses

So, as we celebrate the powerful men who work to support our youth this month, we’d like to highlight Stephen Powell the Executive Director of Mentoring USA in New York as one of our Social Service Samurai. Stephen was actually one of the first participants in our Daddy Daughter Dance! Mentoring USA’s mission is to create positive and supportive mentor relationships for youth ages 7-21, through a structured site-based model, and has provided mentors for more than 5,000 children since its inception and serves youth nationally and internationally. Stephen has been doing awesome work across the country to increase the presence of youth mentoring work, and recruit more males to mentor.   Stephen has also been a tremendous support for my work with Polished Pebbles, and provided mentoring to me as a mentoring professional.

1) How did you get involved in mentoring?

Mentoring has always been in my DNA.  I lost my father at the age of 5, and was then raised by a single mother.  When I got into high school, I then engaged in informal mentoring relationship with my track coach.  After being a mentee, I feel like my commitment to mentoring our youth is a way that I’m giving back to those who gave to me. In my fraternity in college I led our mentoring service as director of community service. During summer of 1993, I had the opportunity to have all of my fraternity brothers to serve as volunteers, and as a result of that we created a partnership with Boys and Girls Club.  Later in my career, I started working at Mentoring USA in 2005, and I felt like God connected me to my life mission.  I currently serve as the Executive Director of Mentoring USA.

2) What does your work consist of as Executive Director at Mentoring USA?

Fundraising, national and local expansion, donor cultivation, program management, and working with corporate partners are many of my primary responsibilities.  At times, I’m requested to give many key-note addresses and inspiring messages across the country. In the last couple of years we’ve been able to expand in international markets. It’s been an exciting ride. We also have an Italian affiliate and we have an affiliate in Morocco that I assist in managing.  As we’re investing in our kids we should also be investing in them to be global competitors. They need to have as much international interaction, access, and opportunity as possible. This will help them in realizing the world is not as small as they think. Essentially as mentors or mentoring organizations we have to be the bridges and fill the gaps. The world they are coming into is very technology driven. Even within the context of mentoring programs, we are looking to develop more rigorous STEM activities and a focus on financial education, diversity, tolerance, healthy lifestyles, and self-esteem. While focus is always on relationship with mentor and mentee, we also make sure we focus on individuals.

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Me with Stephen at National Cares Mentoring Harlan Rising Mentor Orientation

Polished Pebbles (PP) is one of the main reasons why we’ve been able to expand our program. I met Kelly in 2009 in Atlanta working with Susan Taylor in a small group. Shortly after Kelly started PP we were expanding our national relationship with Bloomingdale’s. Bloomingdale’s was starting a fashionable fundraiser. We did something with Polished Pebbles where they had their girls come into the stores and the executives fell in love with them. They wanted to mentor them. Two weeks later we co-trained the mentors, and that’s what really caused our national expansion with Bloomingdale’s. It’s all what happened with Polished Pebbles.

3) What do you like best about working with Mentoring USA?

On any given day you can come in here with your tank empty, but you really never leave with your tank empty. There’s always a form of inspiration. Essentially in order to do this work effectively you have to know when to jump into mentee role and when to play mentor role.

4) Describe your thoughts on the role of male mentors in our communities.

There’s simply not enough. And there are seen and unseen barriers for why we don’t have mentors. When I talk about the corporate mentoring piece, even with rigorous recruitment, it yields very little in the space around male mentors. Developed male mentoring initiative, “MEN-TOUR”, focused on male mentor recruitment. Men communicate differently and we also carry our luggage differently, in terms of past pain and not being able to let that pain go. We knew we needed to create a space where men could just be so they could be there for their families and community. There’s always a faith-based institution in these places, so the idea around training is that they understand that their job is not to convert people but to stand in the gap for those who are underserved or in the need of guidance. (Info on program here: I think this is a critical time now. The President is getting ready to launch “My Brother’s Keepers. It’s timely. Everyone of color is under assault all over the country. Right now I think we’re standing down. But we need to stand up and contribute to policy.  We need to change school culture and community culture.

5) In honor of Men’s Month–What would be your message to other males who are interested in mentoring?

Get in. We need you. There’s a space for you, and I feel like because everyone on this planet needs a mentor. We all have something to give, regardless of what we think. We don’t need permission to be great; we just need opportunity and access. Taking that step first is unlocking the greatness within, but you gotta take that step.

You can connect and follow Stephen and Mentoring USA on Twitter:  @mrmentorsteve@mentoringusa, and get more information about Mentoring USA at

My Column on HOW TO BE A GOOD COLLEGE MENTEE Step 1: Don’t be ratchet …

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College Students!!!! Hang out with me, KellyFairTheMentor today on “The Yard” , and check out my column today on How to Be A Good Mentee: Step #1, Don’t Be Ratchet! Please share this article in your social media networks!  CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE!

This weekly column, The Yard, aims to help undergrads excel in their studies and social lives.’s team of experts will show you how to get it done from the day you move into the dorms to the minute you step off campus for that first job. Submit questions and feedback for The Yard via

All Around The World It’s The Same Song: Starting A Mentoring Program in South Africa, Same Challenges…Same Rewards


Karen & Haley’s First Mentoring Sessions in South Africa!

SA NoteWhen I started reading this email message I received from Karen Nelson, I was astounded.  I work hard to share content and ideas that people find useful and engaging here on “KellyFairTheMentor.”  And, it was so rewarding and surprising to get a note from someone who was reading our blog, and who found me all the way in South Africa! Karen and her friend Hayley have partnered to begin establishing a mentoring program in their community in South Africa.  They’re in the very early stages of developing and implementing their pilot program, but they’ve done a whole lot of research, identified partners in the community,  and have been working on building their curriculum.

As I began communicating with and coaching Karen and Hayley, I found that it was so awesome that there were so many similarities between their story, and the stories of many other women that I meet and work with who are passionate about establishing their own mentoring initiatives, and giving back to their communities.  Karen and her partner Hayley have known each other for 15 years, having met while working as attorneys. Their careers took them along different paths and for the past 8 years Karen has mainly focused on her family ( 4 kids) and community work. Hayley moved into HR and has worked mainly for ad agencies.  Approximately 18 months ago, they realized that they shared the same passion to work with young ladies from disadvantaged communities.  Their vision for the program has gone through several metamorphoses and what started off as a finishing school concept has become more of a mentoring program with 3 components: 1. mentoring, with personal growth and the acquisition of a  few hard skills as its emphasis (in-house); 2. accredited skills development training (out-sourced); 3. job shadows/internships (corporations).
Sound familiar?  For me it did, It sounded very much like my own story as I began taking my first action steps in starting Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program four years ago.  And their story sounded very similar to many of you in the mentoring community who are taking that leap into saying yes to the power of mentoring, and developing the mission and structure of your mentoring efforts with family, friends, and colleagues.  We have all done the analysis to determine the core needs of our youth,  and doing the planning to establish the programming to meet those needs.  In regards to recruiting volunteers, Karen and Haley have been targeting women from their own personal networks and older women in the communities that they plan on serving.  Sounds like a strategy many of us in youth and mentoring work here in the states have also implemented in our own communities.
Additionally, I also found it fascinating when Karen and Haley shared the challenges that girls were facing in their communities how they were almost identical to those of girls that we serve here in many of America’s inner cities:
  • teenage pregnancies
  • impact of gangsterism
  • dysfunctional homes
  • alcoholism and drug abuse
  • sub-standard levels of education

Karen and Haley were hesitant when I asked that they share pictures, because they felt they were too early on in establishing their mentoring program, and didn’t have the slick marketing material to properly present themselves.   But, I’m so thankful that they obliged, because there’s so much beauty and power in sharing these pictures, and their story of how they’re getting started.  It’s encouraging, because sometimes just getting started is actually the hardest part with running a mentoring program.  And, the learning and innovation in developing your program never stops.  I wanted to share their story because we’ve may have been where they are now, may currently be at this stage, or encouraged to move forward by the great amount of progress these two have already made.

I think we often mistakenly think that life on the other side of the globe has to be so starkly different than our own.  When I think about it, I’m reminded of the chorus from a song from the 90’s  from the rap group, Digital Underground.  The lyrics from the song accurately and wisely stated, “all around the world it’s the same song.”  And, it’s the same song when it comes to youth mentoring too, the same challenges, the same rewards, and the same experiences no matter where in the world we may be serving.  But, we all will continue to grow in our individual efforts, and our efforts as a GLOBAL mentoring community when we share the good, the bad, and the ugly of our growth process.  When one is successful and shares their knowledge then we all succeed.  Please enjoy the pictures of Karen, Haley, their volunteers, and mentees at their first sessions below!  I hope it serves as an inspiration.  Somebody else I know started off with two girls at their first mentoring session, and her name is KellyFairTheMentor!

Interested in receiving coaching from KellyFairTheMentor in your community or school mentoring efforts?  KellyFairTheMentor will be hosting a webinar in upcoming months.  What topic would you like to see discussed?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Let’s Keep Sharing!