The Empower Youth Network’s Youth Success! Mentoring (YSM) program

Our local students need YOU! Can you sacrifice an hour a week to be a mentor? What is a mentor? A mentor is a trusted advisor who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors.

Let’s meet a real mentor and their mentee (names have been changed to protect privacy.) Billy was a kid who needed a positive influence in his life. A rambunctious, smart kid, Billy had a knack for being mischievous and knew the office staff well at his school.  Even though Billy had some positive influences in his life, this child of a single parent needed more supportive adults to help guide him.

Enter Tina, who found the YSM program as she was changing from a full-time position, working in Seattle for 20 years, to having a little more time on her hands to invest in her community. She says,

At, first I thought I would be supporting an elementary student in areas that they struggled in school, like writing, math or reading.  Well, I was wrong about that.  YSM is ‘student-directed,’ and my mentee was interested in gaming and had an incredible imagination.  We started working on what he wanted to do.  We went to the library and found books on mythology and Norse lore. Then he started creating a game, and I took notes and recorded what his thoughts were. We came up with 12 episodes of the game Giants and Serfs.  Billy is also teaching me to play Minecraft, and we have explored programming in a section of this game.

Tina loves working with her mentee.  His self-esteem and confidence have grown in the 4 years they’ve been together. In 2021-22 they are off to middle school together, and she can’t wait to see what they will be learning once school starts. She comments, “It is an amazing experience and growth for both of us (I can talk gaming and kid), and he has new programming skills and is doing better in behavior, math and reading. He makes me smile just thinking about him.”

The Youth Success Mentoring Program (YSM) through the Empower Youth Network matched Billy with Tina, and they started meeting for 45 minutes each week during the school day for the past 4 years.  During that time, their relationship grew to a wonderful friendship in which Tina and Billy learned and grew.  

Now Billy doesn’t see the office staff, is doing well academically, is a leader among his peers and interacts positively with the school teachers and staff.  Tina has learned all about cars, computer programming and has grown personally.

Both Tina and Billy say they look forward to seeing one another each week, have learned much about themselves and topics they weren’t familiar with before they had a mentor/mentee relationship. Billy’s parent is grateful for their pairing and says, “Thank you for being there for my child.  You have made a giant impact on his life.  Every time his mentor is mentioned, his eyes light up.  It fills me with joy.  I’m delighted to hear they will stay together.  Thank you for all you do!”

YSM is a school-based mentoring program run by Empower Youth Network, partnering with SVSD and RSD, to service all the Snoqualmie Valley. Their mission is to promote and inspire youth to lead safe, healthy and successful lives by pairing adult volunteer mentors with youth elementary age through high school. 

Kathy Hyland (Program Coordinator) and Heather Downing (Program Manager) from YSM say they anticipate an increased need this next school year for mentors to be paired with students due to the Social-Emotional effects of the pandemic. To fill this need, they are recruiting mentors for the 2021-22 school year.

2020-21 was a wild school year, they adapted their program and continued to run the mentorship program throughout Covid via Zoom for the matches, returning a few matches to in-person mentoring near the end of the school year. This upcoming school year, it is hoped that matches will again meet in person at school.

Volunteer mentors work one-on-one with a child (up to one hour per week) in the Snoqualmie Valley and Riverview School Districts. The program is continually growing, and they are adding more schools as well as more mentors.

These volunteer mentors spend one hour a week with a student, at school during school hours, as a friend who plays games, does activities together to build on social, emotional health.  Youth with at least one caring adult, such as a mentor, in their lives do better in school, with relationships and make better choices.

Mentors change lives. They are people just like you who have families and lead busy lives.  YSM mentors choose to spend time volunteering to strengthen their community by building a connection with youth to give a child confidence, inspire positive choices, and build hope for a better future. The program provides training, support and community connection.

This program has been running for four full years, going into the 5th school year. YSM is now in all Snoqualmie Valley and Riverview School District Schools from kindergarten to high school ages. These schools have expressed that they have plenty of students that need a caring, positive, consistent person in their lives and can use many more mentors.

Become a YSM mentor; Give a child confidence, inspire positive choices, and build hope for a better future. For more info, email

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