General Program FAQ

Why do you focus on serving children with incarcerated parents?

Parental incarceration is recognized as an Adverse Childhood Experience, or ACE, by public health experts. Studies show that childhood trauma and stress caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences can lead to negative physical and mental health outcomes. Despite the fact that over 5 million children in the US have experienced parental incarceration – including approximately 8000 children in Central Texas alone –  very few organizations or services explicitly support youth facing these specific challenges. We aim to help fill that gap.

How do you know this program works?

Seedling is an award-winning, research-based program that uses established best practices in mentoring. Additionally, we engage an independent evaluator to conduct annual program evaluations that can be found on our impact page.

Is Seedling at all Central Texas schools?

Seedling makes new matches at select elementary and middle schools in Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Hays Consolidated ISD, Pflugerville ISD, as well as KIPP Austin and Austin Achieve charter districts. Please click here to see the most current list of Seedling partner schools.

When is the best time to apply?

We welcome applications year-round. New Mentor Orientation dates are scheduled beginning in early fall through January. Mentoring matches are made in the fall or in the spring prior to March 1.

I may know other people who would like to mentor. How do I spread the word?

One of the biggest things you can do to help Seedling is let people know about our program! We are always happy to do presentations to businesses, organizations, or other community groups who would like to get involved. We also have promotional materials, both digital and print, that we can share. If you’d like to learn more about this or have other ideas on how to collaborate to reach more people, please contact us at info@seedlingmentors.org.

Prospective School Partner FAQ

How can I get my school involved?

Seedling has agreements with Austin ISD, Del Valle ISD, Hays Consolidated ISD, Pflugerville ISD, as well as KIPP Austin and Austin Achieve charter school districts.  In order to become a partner school, Seedling and the school district must have a signed Agreement that includes a financial investment from both the district and Seedling. To learn more, please contact chowe@seedlingmentors.org

What kind of program support is required at Seedling partner schools?

Seedling asks that the schools designate a contact person on campus who can help uncover students who for Seedling mentoring, assist with scheduling mentor match meetings, and ensure mentee and caregiver satisfaction in the program. This School Contact is usually a counselor, social worker, parent support specialist, or someone in a similar role. Seedling Mentor Directors support the School Contacts, working directly together with them for successful outcomes for all involved. Additionally schools are asked to provide dedicated, semi-private (they can be seen, but not overheard) meeting space for matches.

Does Seedling screen and train mentors?

Yes, Seedling requires successful completion of background checks, references and an extensive New Mentor Orientation for all mentors. Additionally, every Seedling mentor has one-on-one support from our expert Mentor Directors and ongoing monthly optional trainings on the latest and most relevant best practices in mentoring and working with youth.

Prospective Mentor FAQ

What does the mentor’s commitment look like?

Seedling mentors meet with their mentees once a week for at least one school year, during the mentee’s lunch time at the mentee’s school. While it can be helpful, it is not a requirement to visit the same day each week. Seedling is strictly a school-based mentoring program, so no evening or weekend time is expected or required.

Can we meet at another time besides lunch?

Lunch time is the best time to meet as it not only provides consistency, but it also provides the opportunity for this nurturing relationship to happen without interrupting instruction time. Research shows that mentoring programs that pull students from their classes can sometimes negatively impact academic performance.

What will my mentee's family know about me?

Very little. Only your name and anything you choose to share with your mentee.

Will I meet my mentee's parent or caregiver?

The majority of our mentors do not meet caregivers since our program is school based, though there is a small possibility that you could cross paths at school.

Can I choose the child or the school where I mentor?

Seedling makes mentoring matches based on research-proven best practices, but we do our best to accommodate preferences when possible.

What if my mentee changes schools after I start?

If this occurs, you have several options and Seedling will support you in determining the best choice for you and your mentee.

I’ve never mentored before. What if I need help?

A Seedling mentor is a friend, and asource of support and encouragement – no previous experience required! Every Seedling mentor is assigned a Mentor Director to support you throughout the duration of your mentoring match. Mentor Directors are available to answer any questions you may have and have a wealth of knowledge in youth development. Additionally, Seedling provides monthly trainings and newsletters full of helpful information.

Parent and Caregiver FAQ / Preguntas Frecuentes de Padres y Cuidadores

How can I find out if my child is eligible for Seedling? / ¿Cómo puedo saber si mi estudiante es elegible para Seedling?

Your child is eligible if they have a parent or parent figure that is incarcerated, recently released, is in and out of jail or prison, has been deported, or is detained awaiting deportation and if they attend a Seedling partner school. To see the most current list of Seedling partner schools, please click here. / Su hijo es elegible si tiene un padre o figura materna/paterna encarcelado, liberado recientemente, ha sido deportado o está detenido a la espera de la deportación, y si su estudiante asiste a una escuela asociada con Seedling. Para ver la lista más actualizada de las escuelas asociadas de Seedling,utiliza este enlace.

Are your volunteers screened? / ¿Sus voluntarios son verificados?

Yes, all volunteers are required to go through background checks, reference checks and a mandatory New Mentor Orientation reviewing Seedling Mentor policies. All of our guidelines are based on established research for best practices in working with youth. / Sí, todos los mentores voluntarios deben pasar por verificaciones de antecedentes penales y verificaciones de referencias.   Todos los mentores asisten a una orientación obligatoria que incluye las reglas del programa Seedling.  Todas nuestras programación se basan en investigaciones establecidas para las mejores prácticas en el trabajo con jóvenes.

Will my child meet with their mentor outside of school? / ¿Se reunirá mi hijo con su mentor fuera de la escuela?

No, this is a school-based program. Your child will meet or communicate with their mentor at the agreed upon weekly meetings at their school. Some older (middle and high school) students might elect to take part in Seedling’s SMS (text) messaging service with guardian approval. These communications are monitored by Seedling staff. The SMS tool is optional. / No, Seedling es un programa realizado solamente en la escuela.  Su hijo se reunirá y se comunicará con su mentor cada semana durante el año escolar en las visitas realizadas en la escuela. Algunos estudiantes en los grados 6-12 pueden optar por participar en mensajes SMS (texto) de Seedling, con su mentor, con los permisos del los padres o cuidadores. Estas comunicaciones son monitoreadas por el personal de Seedling. La aplicación SMS es opcional.

What will my child's mentor know about our family? / ¿Qué sabrá el mentor de mi estudiante sobre nuestra familia?

Very little. Only your child’s name, grade and anything your child chooses to share with their mentor. / Seedling solo le proporcionará al mentor el nombre y la información de grado de su estudiante.  Además de su nombre y grado, el mentor solo sabrá lo que su estudiante elija compartir.  

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