This pilot program will test the hypothesis that providing a professional mentor/navigator program in a targeted area of concentrated poverty will increase economic mobility for program participants resulting in improved self-sufficiency.
The study will pilot and evaluate an adult mentor/navigator program called Bridges for Success in an area of concentrated poverty in Rochester. Program participants will work with a professional mentor/navigator to set goals to move towards economic self-sufficiency and stability. The intervention will be an innovation in the Rochester community and will incorporate evidence-based practices of the Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU) Mobility Mentor and the Family Foundations 1,000 in 1,0005 methodologies. Both models are based on building a participant’s human, social, and financial assets. An RCT methodology will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the mentor/navigator’s interventions in helping individuals achieve critical assets and/or make moves toward self-sufficiency.
The approach is focused on the participant, who is coached by the mentor/navigator with support from specialized employment and dependent liaisons. The mentor/navigator and liaisons have access to an established network of service providers called the Partner Provider Network. Through this network, the participant is provided with comprehensive support services to help achieve critical assets.
CWU’s Mobility Mentoring is a professional mentoring method of partnering with clients to systematically identify and overcome barriers to economic mobility and attain and preserve economic independence. The model relies on a theory of change framework called the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency® and fosters economic mobility by supporting five critical pillars in an individual’s life: 1) family stability, 2) well-being, 3) job preparation 4) financial stability, and 5) obtaining and sustaining a career leading to a living wage job. Each of these pillars has rungs describing a graduated progression of achievement; setting and attaining explicitly defined goals in each pillar effectively bridges the gap between poverty and self-sufficiency.
The approach uses a Bridge to Self-Sufficiency assessment tool to structure dialogue with participants around each pillar, establish goals, and create plans for action. The planning process results in documented goals that the participant has stake in and is accountable for achieving. Mentors coach, share resources, and refer participants to partner organizations to support participants in achieving goals.
Two specialized liaisons- one for employment and one for dependents- also support participants.
3) Employment Liaison: builds relationships with employers while simultaneously advocating education of clients on how to prepare for entering the work force. This role will assist the mentor role in helping participants move into ‘Hot Jobs’ or positions that require 2 years or less of training or education and are in high demand locally.
4) Dependent Liaison: assists participants in meeting the needs of their dependents through education support, effective parenting skills, and child advocacy.
The Partner Provider Network (PPN) is an established group of service providers and organizations that mentor/navigators have access to for participant engagement. The PPN is a collection of local service providers that focus on assets like affordable housing, health and behavioral health, and job acquisition and retention, which are critical to a person’s ability in obtaining self-sufficiency.