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Literacy Mentor

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Simpson Housing Services, Inc.

Literacy Mentoring
Mentor and mentee on an outing at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts.

**Our mentoring positions are open and mentors will be matched with students virtually when possible. While mentors will begin volunteering virtually, we plan to transition mentors to in-person service as soon as it is safe to do so. In order to facilitate this, prospective volunteers should be residents of Minnesota.**

Simpson Literacy Mentoring Program

The Simpson Mentoring Program builds on the inherent strengths of young people in our housing program enabling them to maximize their potential. The Literacy Mentoring program uses adult volunteers who commit to a long-term relationship built around supporting, teaching, and exploring with a young person. By becoming part of the social network of adults and community members who care about the youth, the mentor can support the young person in fostering a love of reading and exploring their strengths, interests, history, and identity through literature and outings.

A note during COVID-19: Simpson prioritizes in-person contact in relationships. However, during the pandemic, it may not always be safe for mentors and mentees to meet in person. Following state and local guidelines, Simpson mentors should be prepared to engage in virtual meetings with their mentee, modified in-person meetings following additional health and safety guidelines, or a combination of both.

As of August 2020, Simpson's policy is that mentors meet with their mentees over Zoom or another approved video platform, with the expectation that they will transition to in-person meetings as soon as it is safe to do so. Training on using video platforms, online safety expectations, and Simpson’s process for deciding when to approve in-person meetings will be provided.

Mentor Role

Mentors will be paired up with one young person with whom they will meet with regularly. This program is designed to be a mutually beneficial relationship, not a short-term intervention; mentors are strongly encouraged to be open to an ongoing partnership and are expected to commit to the formal program for a minimum of 10 months, with opportunities to continue in formal and informal ways beyond that. They will support the young person in the following ways:

  • Provide transportation to weekly literacy lessons at a local library and monthly field trip outings and/or connect with young person weekly via approved video chat platforms
  • Explore and practice literacy skills and concepts using materials and session plans provided by Simpson staff
  • Attend monthly field trips (minimum of 6 field trips/year) with the student
  • Support the educational life of the student through communication with Simpson staff, the student’s parent(s), and the school to ensure coordination of support
  • Serve as a positive role model and friend
  • Recognize and focus on the unique strengths and interests of the student

Time Commitment

  • Make a long-term commitment of no less than 10 months
  • Pick up or accept delivery of a 1-month kit of lesson plans each month
  • Spend a minimum of 1 hour per week on the literacy lesson.
  • Spend 2-4 hours monthly on a field trip outing
  • Spend 1-1.5 hours monthly on in-person meetings with the coordinator
  • Agree to attend mentor-tutor trainings as required. This includes, but is not limited to, an initial 4.5-hour training and at least 1 additional training throughout the year.
  • Agree to spend time outside of formal trainings engaged in anti-racist work, with support from the coordinator. This may include, but is not limited to, engaging with articles, podcasts, or films recommended by the coordinator, personal reflection, and community events. Agree to actively participate in conversations about this material during monthly check-ins.
  • Communicate regularly with program coordinator. This includes in -person meetings, filling out lesson logs, and e-mail/phone communication when needed.

Mentor Eligibility Requirements

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be willing to adhere to all Simpson Mentoring Program policies and procedures
  • Commit to all Simpson values, including a commitment to personal and systemic anti-racist work
  • Complete and pass the screening procedure
  • Be willing to communicate regularly with the program coordinator and submit monthly meeting and activity information
  • Have access to an automobile or reliable transportation
  • Have a current driver’s license, auto insurance with acceptable level of coverage, and good driving record
  • Have reliable internet and access to a computer, phone, or tablet with video chat capabilities
  • Have a clean criminal history
  • Have never been accused, arrested, charged, or convicted of child abuse or molestation

Vital Qualities

  • Willing listener
  • Ability to notice strengths and maintain an attitude of hope in the midst of challenges
  • Encouraging and supportive
  • Patient and flexible; willing to try new things and make and learn from mistakes
  • Open and respectful of individual differences
  • Reliable and consistent


  • Opportunity to build authentic connections with the community and individuals
  • Enjoyment and learning that comes with building a relationship with a young person
  • Training around positive youth work, tutoring best practices, homelessness issues, cultural competency, and more
  • Complimentary tickets to field trip outings and participation in recognition events
  • Personal ongoing support and supervision to help the match succeed
  • Mileage and expenses are tax-deductible

Application and Screening Process

  • Written application
  • Driving record check
  • Criminal history check: national, child abuse and neglect registry, sexual offender registry
  • Personal interview
  • Provide three personal references
  • Attend four-hours of mentor training

For more information, contact Simpson’s Children and Youth Services Manager, Jocelyn Pickreign, at jpickreign@simpsonhousing.org.

We are committed to building a diverse group of mentors. Mentors of all races, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual/romantic orientations, religions, dis/abilities, and socioeconomic statuses are encouraged to apply. The majority of our families are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and members of these communities are especially encouraged to apply.

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About Simpson Housing Services, Inc.


2100 Pillsbury Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55404, US

Mission Statement

To house, support and advocate for people experiencing homelessness.


We know that with close, individual advocacy and support, men, women and families experiencing homelessness achieve housing stability.

We are committed to Housing First: house people quickly, then provide services as needed.

We operate over 20 programs for three distinct groups of participants:

  • shelter programs for single adults without children
  • housing programs for single adults without children
  • housing programs for families with children
Children & Youth
Homeless & Housing
Race & Ethnicity


We'll work with your schedule.


Simpson Housing ServicesBell House2100 Pillsbury Ave SMinneapolis, MN 55404



  • Mentoring
  • Relationship Building
  • Youth Services
  • Child Development
  • Literacy / Reading
  • Tutoring




  • Driver's License Needed
  • Background Check
  • Must be at least 21
  • Orientation or Training
  • Meet with mentee once per week for 1 year
  • SHS is committed to building a diverse, committed group of mentors for our young people.

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