JPMorgan Chase Equips Employee Mentors To Support Young People In The Wake Of Violence

Over the past year, community violence has dominated the news and has spurred greater exploration of systemic inequality, prejudice and racism. Many young people impacted by community violence or trauma are looking for outlets to process their experiences, express their emotions, ask for help and channel their feelings into positive, constructive action. Mentors are uniquely positioned to help young people but may need support to guide their discussions and to serve as allies to young people trying to process their feelings.

JPMorgan Chase recognized this need firsthand through requests that they received from employee mentors in their mentoring program, The Fellowship Initiative. The year-round program engages employees as mentors to young men of color on academic issues, college planning, financial aid, and career pathways in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City.  In collaboration with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Mental Health Association of NYC, JPMorgan Chase developed a guide to help mentors facilitate what may be difficult discussions with young men of color struggling to understand the violence in their communities.

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“It can be especially difficult for young people who have lost friends, relatives, or classmates to process why these incidents have happened and how they can be addressed or prevented,” said Hilda Marie of the Mental Health Association of NYC.  “Mentors can play a powerful role in engaging young people in affirming, healing, and supportive conversations.”

Mentors can be effective allies for young people without having to share similar backgrounds or experiences. Through the process of building relationships with youth and actively listening to them, mentors cultivate a sense of safety which provides the opportunity to discuss the violence that young people have experienced or encountered and to process their reactions to these tragic events.  It is equally important for mentors to have a network of supportive professionals who can lend their expertise and guidance in better understanding what a young person is experiencing and how to navigate what can sometimes be challenging discussions.

Before engaging in discussions on challenging topics, it is important for mentors to acknowledge and explore their own biases, emotional triggers, and limitations. Mentors need to be able to manage their own feelings so that they can effectively support young people in reflection. The following are some additional strategies outlined in the guide for advancing effective conversations:
  • Acknowledge what is happening – help young people make sense of their experiences;
  • Understand and cultivate critical consciousness – important for creating opportunities for young people to reflect, discuss, and challenge systems of inequity;
  • Begin the conversation by talking about what young people are reading, hearing and noticing;
  • Plan group discussions among young people and mentors that provide safe spaces for expressing of feelings, processing of experiences, sharing of support and empathy, building of community, and consideration of construction solutions.
Supporting mentors is one of the keys to a quality mentoring relationship (outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring) which is why Supporting Young People in the Wake of Violence and Trauma is a valuable resource for mentors full of tangible tools and techniques. On March 7, MENTOR and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will be hosting a special webinar devoted to this topic with support from the Mental Health Association of NYC and JPMorgan Chase.


Dan Horgan is the CEO of D.G. Horgan Group and is the Corporate Partnerships Consultant for MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.


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