To create a common language and framework for youth-serving adults in out-of-school time, in order to build a community of Connected Mentors across Learning Networks and other learning spaces.

The Hive Chicago Learning Network brings together a diverse group of youth-serving organizations in a community of out-of-school program working to enact Connected Learning. 

Connected Learning happens where academic pursuits, personal interests and peer culture intersect. The idea is not to fully integrate these spheres, but to build connections so that entry points may exist and to diversify the pathways and opportunities to learning. One crucial way to create connections is to build relationships with youth. This is where the mentoring plays a significant role in the connected learning model.



Mentoring as a Mechanism for Connected Learning

Across the Hive there are hundreds of programs, following a vast variety of curriculums and structures. The content is varied and organizations are unique. Youth development seemed to be a critical component in everyone’s work and you will hear the word mentoring used quite frequently. However, the way in which mentoring occurs varies. In this landscape across the Hive Chicago Network, this group set out to more clearly understand the aspects of relationship building and how that fits into the context of informal learning spaces. 

Mentoring has long been clearly defined formally as an experienced and trusted adviser. However, what mentoring is and is not in informal spaces, across HOMAGO spaces, in pop-ups, and in short instances has been open to interpretation and has no clear definition. In order to build a community of mentors and bridge connections in Connected Learning, we set out to construct a framework in an effort to develop a common understanding and language related to the type of mentoring that happens in out-of-school spaces. After observing programs and speaking with adults across organizations, we devised the Connected Mentoring Framework. Its purpose is to help practitioners see where their roles fit into the broad youth development and mentoring taking place in out-of-school time. 

Don’t Forget the Youth

Once we had a framework and key fundamental ingredients to building relationships and establishing mentors, we needed to provide techniques and best practices so that our resource would move beyond the theoretical into the actionable. Every step of our project requested input from Hive Chicago members, from active practitioners and researchers. However, we had not included the youth perspective. 

What better way to understand how to build key relationships in our programming than by asking youth. We added this component to our project and set out to speak to the youth that participated in various programs across Hive network programs.