Since its beginning in 2016, the Coordinadora Mentoria Social has spent 2 years with its members to understand the meaning of mentoring and differentiating what quality mentoring is and what it is not and how to establish a frame to help in this description. Based on an agreed description of quality mentoring they worked on creating a Quality System that includes two parts: a questionnaire resulting in an automatic report that includes a graphic picture of the quality of the project and an empowering audit process in which each project can identify improvements and how to implement them.
The European Center for Evidence-based mentoring had an interview with Marta Lopez Cornellas, director at Coordinadora Mentoria Social. Marta discussed their work in developing a quality certificate and a framework for auditing mentoring projects in Spain. Mainly focused on accreditation of social mentoring, this quality system assesses each of the 6 phases of the project (mentors’ screening, mentees’ screening, training for mentors and mentees, matching process, monitoring and closure) These measures were inspired by studies conducted by Americans and people from the UK. In a way, the American system was adapted to the reality and context of social mentoring in Spain.
The questionnaire and the automatic report are followed by an interview from the quality team to check the given responses with the project team. After making sure that the responses of the questionnaire are correct and therefore the automatic report is real, the quality team advises the project staff about which path is the best to prepare an audit process. In some cases, when the quality level is low, the quality team can advise in taking a certain time to implement improvements before the audit is developed, so that each of the projects can decide its rhythm.
The audit process involves interviews with mentors, mentees, and coordinators. Documents are also checked and verified to ensure that the standards are met. Once the audit is complete, the mentoring projects are given a report with general suggestions and requirements they need to meet to get the certificate. There they can see what score they have obtained for each standard and how to improve them if they are lacking. The Coordinadora Mentoria Social is also working on developing toolkits to make it easier for the mentoring projects to implement these quality standards.
And what are some of the common issues faced by mentoring projects during this auditing process? The Coordinadora realized that standards related to the preparation of the mentees are quite often lacking. Though mentors receive good training, the process of training and empowering mentees to start the mentoring relationships still needs more development. This is mainly because mentoring projects generally decide when the mentees (people at risk) are ready to start, inform them about the projects and don’t always take into account that they could need more preparation. However, this quality system is still at a preliminary stage. The Co-Vid crisis prevented them from conducting any audits during 2020 but they have started with several results in 2021: questionnaires from 17 mentoring projects registered, 2 audits completed, and 10 audits planned before the end of the year.
In the future, studies will have to be conducted to compare the effectiveness of mentoring projects which have the quality certificate against the ones that don’t. The Coordinadora team are working on research that can measure the impact of the Quality System Process when collecting the results of the mentoring projects
In the coming years, Coordinadora Mentoria Social hopes to double or even triple the number of organizations they work with. Though the certificate is recognized by some administrations as a tool to score the projects selected to be funded by public grants, more work needs to be done to reach the same level in the majority of public and private funders. Marta also hopes that the academic field will be more interested in mentoring to drive more research into its impacts on society.
About the Coordinadora Mentoria Social
Coordinadora Mentoria Social is a network of mentoring organizations in Spain, which develops mentoring projects aimed at groups of people at risk. It consists of 19 members with 25 mentoring projects for social inclusion
More information on the MC Quality Seal can be found here.