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The Power of Mentorship Leave a comment

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Why Mentorship Matters

If you’re reading this on the SCORE blog, you’re likely well-acquainted with how powerful mentorship can be. As National Mentoring Month comes to an end, I talked to three successful entrepreneurs about their mentoring experiences.

Emily Moberly, CEO & Founder, Traveling Stories

Emily Moberly’s business depends on mentors. Reading has long been a part of Emily’s life, and while teaching in Honduras, she decided to incorporate her love for books into her career plans. Her high school students in Honduras had virtually no access to books. So, Emily brought them a suitcase full of books and started a daily reading time. She recalls, “Seeing the students fall in love with reading and changing their lives changed mine.”

Returning to California, Emily decided to give more children the chance to love reading. In 2010 she founded the nonprofit Traveling Stories. A year later, while shopping at a Farmers’ Market in a low-income community in San Diego, she noticed dozens of kids running around while their frustrated parents tried to shop and asked the market manager if she could set up a tent where children could read with volunteers while their parents shopped. The manager loved the idea, donated the space, and helped promote the concept. And StoryTent was born.

Children were motivated by the Book Bucks and prizes Emily offered. She soon noticed even the kids who didn’t like to read came to the StoryTent. Eventually, as they “became more confident in their reading abilities and were exposed to more books that matched their interests, their motivation shifted from earning prizes to reading for enjoyment.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, StoryTent had to pivot and is now a virtual six-week program. Children receive an initial package of three to six books and meet with their mentor for a weekly 30-45-minute session. At the end of six weeks, they can re-enroll. The mentors also introduce their mentees to e-books, so they get exposed to as many new books as possible. Emily says her virtual program is even higher quality because of the one-on-one attention it provides to the children.

The kids earn “Book Bucks” for every book they read, which they can use to buy prizes of their choosing, which are shipped to their homes. Emily says the mentors not only help improve the children’s reading skills, but the Book Bucks help them learn money management skills as well.

At the moment, Traveling Stories is mostly a local program based in San Diego. But Emily says, now that they’re virtual, it “could easily serve families all over the world.” Because the team is small (four people), Emily is focusing her outreach to communities where they have strong relationships. Still, she would love help spreading the word about the program and its mission to teach children “if they work hard towards something, they can achieve.”

I talked to Emily about the importance of mentors at Traveling Stories.

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