Question: What is the secret ingredient in a successful faith-based mentorship program? Answer: Partnership.
Amachi (pronounced ah-MAH-chee), a Philadelphia-based program that matches volunteer mentors with children of prison inmates, has implemented a multilayer partnership that has led to widespread success and replication in cities across the United States. The program brings together local faith communities - with their lofty motivations and human resources - with area nonprofits like the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, foundations, and even the government. The strength of this partnership enables Amachi not only to ask for a commitment from volunteers, but also to encourage and support them throughout their time as mentors.
A basic marker of Amachis success is its volunteers staying power. Volunteers are expected to spend a minimum of one hour per week with a child for a period of one year. But of the 363 volunteers who are currently active with the program, almost 70 percent of them are well beyond that time commitment. The average monthly time investment is more than nine hours, more than double the original expectation.
Three years after Rev. Paul Karlberg was matched with 12-year-old Dasean, the associate pastor at Proclamation Presbyterian Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Dasean are as connected as ever. Dasean sings in the Proclamation church choir, and this summer he is attending a two-week Christian camp for which Karlberg arranged a scholarship. Karlberg and Dasean go to museums together, attend concerts and ballgames, or just work on Daseans homework at his house.