More than 80% of our graduates are still gainfully employed, enrolled in school, or enlisted in the military four years after the program, thanks in large part to support from their mentors.

Mentoring...the core of challenge

Matching cadets with a caring, responsible mentor is one of the most important components of the Montana Youth Challenge Academy experience. The mentor acts as an anchor of support to the cadet during the Residential phase and continues supporting him/her throughout the 12 month Post-Residential phase (a total of 17 months).

The importance of mentoring

The mentor is key to a graduate’s successful transition to employment, continuing education and/or military. An established goal for all students is to complete a Post Residential Action Plan. This plan outlines the cadet's primary and secondary goals after graduation and is a guide for the Mentor and the cadet to follow upon returning home.

Mentoring responsibilities are fully communicated in the mentor application and will be clearly explained at mentor training. The Montana Youth Challenge Academy offers two training workshops per class cycle (mentors only need to attend one of these two workshops) and will communicate training dates with mentors in the application and interview.

Not only is mentoring important for the development of these young men and women, but cadet placement and success during the Post Residential Phase is reported to the Montana State Legislature, National Guard Bureau and Congress to measure the short and long term success of the program.

Mentors have a two-fold purpose: To act as a life coach during the Residential and Post Residential Phases as well as submitting a monthly report on the cadet's placement activities and mentor contact for the 12 months following graduation.

Mentor Requirements

  • Mentors are preferably of the same gender as the Cadet; however cross gender mentors may be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Mentors must be at least 21 years old.

  • Mentors should be in reasonable geographic proximity, defined as distance acceptable to both the mentor and cadet.

  • Mentors may not be a member of the immediate family (parents, significant other of parents, siblings, or members of the same household may not be mentors). Mentors may be aunts, uncles, grandparents or extended family members.

  • Mentors must consent to a criminal history background check.

  • A person convicted of a felony may be eligible to be a mentor, depending on the offense and how much time has passed since the fault was committed. These situations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Mentors must stay in weekly contact with cadet for 14 months.

  • Mentors must be trained and should be able to attend a 1 day mentor training workshop with their cadet, held in Dillon at the program site.

  • Mentors must send in a monthly report that recaps contacts between them and the cadet and verifies placement of the cadet.

  • Mentors must be willing to correspond with the cadet while in the Residential phase by writing letters of encouragement and phone calls.

mentor responsibilities

  • Report to Post Residential Department.

  • Commit to spending 17 months in consistent contact with a Cadet.

  • Return completed mentor application promptly.

  • Spend a day at the program site for mentor training with your cadet.

  • Assist the Cadet with Placement plans and goal setting.

  • Make 4 monthly contacts with the Cadet in person, phone or via social media during the Post Residential Phase. At least two of these contacts should be face-to-face, when possible.

  • Observe all Academy policies and guidelines for mentors. Discuses violations of policies by Cadets with the Case Manager or Mentor Coordinator.

  • Refer the Cadet to community resources as needed and help the Cadet obtain those resources.

  • Participate in a community service project with the Cadet while the student is home for break, if possible.

  • Share occasional informal and fun activities with the Cadet. The Mentor and Cadet can jointly select and schedule the activities.

  • Communicate monthly by phone and email with the Case Manager.

  • Promptly inform the Case Manager of problems or needs in the Cadet’s life.