Youth mentoring partnership kicks off at MacMillan Center

[Allina Health Newsroom, November 06, 2023] More than 30 students from St. Paul Youth Services (SPYS) joined the Allina Health BIPOC Employee Resource Group (ERG) for a mentor-match event at MacMillan Center on October 11, 2023.

SPYS, an organization that engages and supports Black youth, is an ideal partner for our BIPOC ERG – a volunteer group that is empowered to connect with and invest in communities of color.

The event was the product of two years of planning, and subsequent mentor training that prepared 26 Allina Health leaders for this partnership. Vice President Operations, Clinical & Support Services, Fred Bw’Ombongi - a BIPOC ERG member – helped initiate and nurture the connection with SPYS in 2021.

“As the third-largest healthcare employer in the state, we have a role to play as a community member that helps make dreams come true,” Bw’Ombongi said, in his opening remarks. “There are so many career opportunities in healthcare across disciplines, and we are excited to welcome these students into learning and growing at Allina Health.”

At the event, high school students absorbed a short presentation, visited a state-of-the-art simulation lab, and  were paired with leaders from across the system based on their areas of strongest interest – clinical, operational, or otherwise.

SPYS Executive Director, Dr. Tracine Asberry, shared her excitement at the official kickoff of the mentoring relationship.

“This is a leadership opportunity where our students not only learn from Allina Health, but offer their own intellectual capital,” Dr. Asberry said. “These kids are eager to learn, but the mentors will get even more in return – a more relevant idea of what it means to do their jobs.”

“My hope is that this is only the beginning.”

Mentor training
Director Revenue Cycle, Francesca Hakim - BIPOC ERG Chair - worked with the Allina Health DEI&B team to help source mentors from across the system.

“The short-term goal is to have each mentor-mentee pair meet six times before the end of 2023,” Hakim said. “The longer-term vision is to have these relationships last through high school graduation, with the hope that these students might onramp into careers here at Allina Health.”

Hakim said the mentor training provided was comprehensive and specific to the needs of SPYS students. Mentor-mentee meetings will take place on site at St. Paul Johnson High School, where all mentees are students.

“I’ve never experienced anything like the mentor training we received from SPYS – it was exceptional,” Hakim said. “The training helped me look through the eyes of a young person and think about building the relationship; it really set the mentor up for success and highlighted the importance of engaging with the student versus just talking ‘at’ a student.”

SPYS Youth Programs and Resource Development Plan Manager Julia Moffit detailed the training style that assists new mentors in connecting with youth.

"So often, new mentors are used to working almost exclusively with adults,” Moffit said. “The training has been adjusted over the years, but essentially we pull from our values and ask that mentors listen, be respectful, and commit to smart, fair, and loving treatment of our students.”

SPYS Leader Team
St. Paul Youth Services (SPYS) leaders pose at the Oct. 11 event: (left to right) Executive Director Dr. Tracine Asberry, Richard Hammonds, Manu Lewis, Lori Roberson, and Julia Moffit.
Posted on November 06, 2023 in Abbott Northwestern Hospital

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