By: Paul Cronin

January 12, 2015

What if there was a way to change the lives of young people in our communities and simultaneously transform the way we think about long-term success for our businesses?

It starts with understanding that every young person deserves to have a caring adult in their life. However, the reality is that there are many young people in our communities who do not naturally have access to the types of adult role models that can help propel them to future success. That’s where we, as business leaders, can make a difference by supporting mentoring and empowering positive, youth-adult relationships.

Hampden County has been identified by Mass Mentoring Partnership, a leader in fostering youth-adult relationships, as a region in which more mentoring relationships for young people are desperately needed. Businesses can play a vital role in supporting and expanding this movement while connecting your organization to your community in meaningful ways. Encourage your employees to become mentors either on their own or in groups. Support mentoring programs through grants, sponsorships, pro-bono support or donations of event tickets for mentors and mentees to enjoy together. By doing this, you’ll be supporting the next generation of workers and leaders in your community and will prepare them as a generation of our future workforce.

If you think about the power of relationships in your own life and work, you will probably find that some of your fondest memories and greatest opportunities came from the people who took the time to nurture a relationship with you. A mentoring relationship is no different. All of the things that go into making a solid friendship – trust, communication and honesty – can make for a caring mentoring relationship that is fulfilling for both parties.
MMP Mentoring Photo for Op-Ed
First Niagara recently presented Mass Mentoring Partnership with a grant for $50,000 in support of its mentoring programs throughout Western Massachusetts. The check was presented at the Marcella Kelly School in Holyoke, which was able to implement a mentoring program between third and eighth grade students thanks to First Niagara’s 2013 grant to Mass Mentoring Partnership. (File photo)

First Niagara is an example of a company that is embracing mentoring and the positive impact it has on young people. In 2007, the bank created Mentoring Matters – a company-wide philanthropic program that provides financial and other support for organizations, including Mass Mentoring Partnership, who work to foster brighter and more successful futures for children. Through these initiatives we are addressing a critical need in the areas in which we do business, and providing a meaningful opportunity for employee involvement. This effort to assist at-risk youth has direct and beneficial impacts, including boosting academic achievement and helping to prepare them for future career opportunities, some of which might be right here at the bank.

In my own life, being a mentor has been a very fulfilling experience. It has made me more compassionate and caring in my personal life and has allowed me to become a better leader professionally. Despite a very busy work schedule, I make it a top priority to meet with my mentee once a month and exchange emails with him weekly. They often say the mentor gets more out of these relationships than the mentee; and I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.

On Tuesday, Jan. 13, I will be joining other businesses from across the state and organizations dedicated to empowering youth-adult relationships in Springfield at Mass Mentoring Partnership’s Corporate Mentoring Summit, where we will celebrate the impact business leaders have in strengthening our communities.

If you’d like to join this amazing movement, I encourage you to find out more

Paul Cronin is the Senior Managing Director, Head of Capital Markets & International for First Niagara Financial Group.