Learn more about Spence-Chapin’s NYC Mentorship program by reading our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who are the “Mentees”?
Mentees in the Junior Mentorship Program are adoptees 10-12 years old.
Mentees in the Teen Mentorship Program are adoptees 13-18 years old.
Adoptees born internationally and domestically and who live in the NYC general area. Those who joined their families at a young age and those who may have joined later, kids who joined their families through foster care or who are in a kinship adoption also join us. Kids who may or may not share a cultural or racial identity as their parents.
Mentees form connections with their peers and their mentors to talk about themselves, their stories and what is important to them. Mentorship provides a special space to create memories with creative and fun activities and experiences.
Who are the “Mentors”?
The mentors are adoptees 21+ who volunteer their time to providing support and act as positive role models for mentees. Mentors bring a lot of fun, personal experiences and knowledge to the group. Some of the mentors were once mentees themselves!
Mentors are adoptees born domestically and internationally who live within the NYC area and participate in each monthly event. They go through a screening, training and clearance process before being accepted into the program.
Why would my child be interested in a mentoring program?
Teens don’t always have their own adoptee community and for many, they don’t realize they were looking for it until they’ve found it with our Mentorship programs.
Adoptees have experiences in life that only other adoptees can understand, and our program provides a place where they can share, be heard, and join a group of others who can relate to them, while having fun and making lasting connections.
Since the start of this program, kids who join Mentorship continue to come back each year. Some even return to be mentors themselves when they are 21!
How often does the Mentorship Program meet?
Once a month on a Saturday. Generally, events are from 12-3pm or 12-4pm.
Some days, Junior & Teen Mentorship have events at the same time when we are offsite in NYC. Onsite days, when we are in the office, the groups meet on different days separately.
Mentorship starts in September of each year and runs through June.
Are kids assigned to a Mentor one-to-one? Do they meet individually?
No. Mentorship runs as group program.
We believe the group format encourages everyone to interact with new people at each event. Through the various activities each month, participants naturally make intentional and authentic bonds with one another, while having a lot of fun!
Is there a fee to join?
Yes. The cost per semester is $500, or $1000 for the full year. The fall semester runs from September through January, and the spring semester runs from February through June.
Registration is available through the Spence-Chapin website.
What does the fee cover?
The fee includes food catered from various locations in New York City at each event, and all entrance and participatory fees for offsite locations as well as materials needed for onsite locations.
What if my child has a food allergy or preference?
We will ask you this information in the application process and be sure to cover it with you once you have registered. We make sure all our Mentors and supporting staff are aware of food allergies and preferences.
In ordering food each month for Mentorship, we are always mindful of food allergies and food preferences like vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, gluten-free, etc. and communicate accordingly with any vendor we are working with.
What are some places Mentorship visits in New York City?
Our group has gone rock climbing, sword fighting, ice skating, bowling, played laser tag, done cooking and painting classes, had scavenger hunts throughout the city, and gone to Escape the Rooms. We’ve gone to Broadway shows, the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island, and all the museums you can think of!
What are some topics that are discussed on “Adoption Day” or “Identity Day”?
Some discussion topics have been about birth family, birth culture, who you share your adoption story with, or “do you share your adoption story with anyone?” We discuss what it means to sometimes not “look” like the rest of your family and how that makes you feel, relationships and friendships, birth family search and reunion and what that means to adoptees. Language, identity, and how we experience things as adoptees.
Is there a group for just the parents to meet?
Yes! We believe strongly that parents need community just as much as the kids do.
Throughout the Mentorship year, parents are invited to join in groups just for them to discuss topics that are important to them with the support of Spence-Chapin staff, and mentors. Some meetings are in person on the same day the kids meet but in a separate space and some meet virtually.
Parents are also encouraged to meet with one another at drop-off for events. While your child is at that month’s event, that time is a great opportunity to meet with some of the other parents and enjoy the afternoon together before you return to pick up your kid later that day.
Parents with kids enrolled in the mentoring programs are automatically enrolled in the parent group.
What if my child is hesitant to participate?
It is totally understandable that your child may be hesitant to join this program. Many teens who are unsure about joining the program end up really enjoying it after the first event!
We want everyone to feel comfortable when we are together, and there is never any pressure to share. Often, after hearing other adoptees open up about their stories and experiences, our most hesitant teens start to hear their stories reflected and feel encouraged to participate and share.
Ultimately, it’s most important that your child wants to join Mentorship. Before enrolling, your family and your child will have a chance to meet with the program facilitators and get a good understanding of what to expect when they join.
How do I get started?
First, we ask families to fill out an Inquiry Form. Once this is submitted, a member of our team will reach out to you for an initial call to answer any questions you may have.
After this call, you will receive a longer form application that has specific questions about joining Mentorship. There is a section for your child to fill out also, so they can tell us about themselves!
A Zoom call will be scheduled so that the program facilitator can meet you all face to face and go over the details of the program and welcome you.
A link to registration will be sent to you, and once registration is received, parents are sent onboarding documents to sign and send back before the start of the semester/year.
We hope you join us! If you have any further questions about the program please reach out via email to [email protected] or call 212-360-0276.