For over 20 years, the YSS Mentoring Program has successfully matched children and mentors, creating life-changing—and often life-long—relationships. These mentorships create stability and consistency for our youth and provide a positive, caring role model in their lives.

Become a Mentor  Enroll Your Child  Make A Gift

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Positively Life-Changing Results

It’s proven that all children benefit from having a fun and supportive relationship with a caring person.

Youth in the YSS Mentoring Program report that their mentor has helped them connect and communicate with others.

In addition, teachers report that YSS mentees are better students, have more positive attitudes, and demonstrate improved behavior in the classroom.

We hold the distinction of being certified by Iowa Mentor, which requires adherence to strict guidelines and best practices established by MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership.

You can make a huge difference in the lives of our mentees by donating essential items to support their growth and development. Check out our Mentoring Program Amazon Wish List.

About Us

School-Based Mentoring

YSS's school-based mentoring program serves youth in grades K-8. Mentors commit to meeting with their mentees for one hour each week during the child's school day (8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.) for the duration of the school year.

Mentoring pairs often meet during the child's lunch or recess hour. Activities can include:

  • Eating lunch together
  • Playing board games
  • Working on a craft project
  • Playing outside
  • Talking about the youth’s interests

Students can be referred to YSS by a teacher, school counselor, or family member. School-based mentoring is offered at the following locations: Ames, Ballard, Boone, Collins-Maxwell, Gilbert, Madrid, Nevada, Ogden, and Webster City.

Community-Based Mentoring

The YSS community-based mentoring program is open to youth ages 6-17 in Boone and Story Counties. Mentors commit to connecting with their mentee for at least four hours a month for one year.

The mentoring pairs meet after school and on weekends. Activities can include:

  • Visiting a local park
  • Attending sporting events
  • Bowling, skating, fishing, or playing outside
  • Getting ice cream
  • Painting and crafts

The community-based program strives to increase positive outcomes for youth, increasing resiliency and protective factors. YSS provides regular events for mentors, mentees, and their families. We also connect families to community resources.

Destiny's Story

Pat started mentoring eighth grader Destiny in 2019. When the pandemic hit, they continued to meet virtually each week until they could reconnect in person.

Destiny says her mentor provides stability both in and out of school. The two bonded over making fleece blankets, which they donated to children at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames.

Destiny continued to show kindness and generosity when she created a flower painting for Pat, which she now proudly displays in her house.

This summer, the pair attended a YSS Mentoring family fishing event, where Destiny was excited to introduce her family to Pat. Their friendship offers constant support for both the mentor and the mentee.

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Become a Mentor

From high school and college students, to business professionals, retirees and more, individuals from all walks of life are welcome to volunteer as a mentor.

  • STEP 1: Submit an application
  • STEP 2: Complete background and reference checks
  • STEP 3: Complete an interview and mentor orientation

We take special care to match mentees with the right mentor that best fits their personality, interests, and needs. The application and matching process can take up to 4-6 weeks, from beginning to end.

Apply Today

Safety First

Ensuring the safety of youth served by YSS programs is our primary focus. YSS Mentoring staff screen each applicant using a thorough background check for reports of child abuse, criminal history, or inclusion in the National Sex Offender Registries. Personal references are also checked, and each applicant is required to be interviewed and trained by program facilitators.

Training sessions cover effective strategies for mentoring, including appropriate and inappropriate conduct. Program facilitators give ongoing support and additional trainings.

Collaboration and Prevention

YSS Mentoring collaborates with the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services through the Improving Tomorrow: Prevention Focused Mentoring Grant.

We also work closely with the department to prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as well as problem gambling. Participants in the YSS Mentoring Program learn why substance abuse and problem gambling is harmful to their health. As a program, we provide prevention related resources, trainings, and activities to all program stakeholders throughout the year.

In a recent survey, 95% of YSS mentees said they believe it is wrong for someone their age to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

Free, Confidential Support 24/7 was created to support Iowans by offering free, confidential support and resources for substance use, gambling, suicide, and mental health. Contact YourLifeIowa by calling 855-581-8111, texting 855-895-8398, or visiting


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Noah's Story

When Noah was in second grade and experiencing turmoil in his personal life, he found stability through the YSS Mentoring program.

His mentor, Macy, ate lunch with him, played games, and always asked how he was doing. Those interactions gave him something positive in his life when he needed it most.

Now a junior at Boone High School, Noah decided to pay it forward by becoming a YSS mentor to a young student.

"You get to know your mentee really well, and you grow a relationship with them," Noah says. "This kid is so happy when he sees me through his classroom door. It makes me feel good knowing I’m impacting someone else’s life, just like my mentor did for me when I was younger."

Contact Us

For more information, contact Mindy Speake at