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Buddy Approval Process

Buddy approval is a crucial system of checks and balances in screening. In this process, a screener reviews applicants' screening steps before accepting them into the program. The buddy approver must NOT be the application owner OR the screener who interviewed the applicant. By having two sets of eyes, the Screening Team works hard to ensure that every mentor approved to volunteer in the program is safe, consistent, collaborative, and mission-aligned.

Selecting a Buddy Approver

Once an applicant completes all screening steps, the owning screener will change the applicant's status to "Buddy Approval." The Associate Director of Mentor Screening (AD) will assign a buddy approver by updating the Buddy Approver field to the screener's name reviewing the application. The AD strives to distribute buddy approvals equitably among screeners. Once a Buddy Approval is assigned, the buddy approver will receive an email notification. 

Buddy Approvals should generally be completed within 72 hours of assignment. At the height of the recruitment season, regional teams may request that certain mentor applicants be buddy-approved more quickly. 

On average, a Buddy Approval should take around 10 minutes to complete, but accuracy should not be sacrificed for speed, as this is the final step in approving a mentor. New staff should work with their manager to improve their screening knowledge and complete this process within 10 minutes.  

The Buddy Approval Process includes the following key steps:

  1. Search for duplicate contact records or older applications. 
  2. Review demographic details on the application and contact record.
    1. Confirm that all applicants are 21 years or older.
  3. Check that the mentor contract is on file. For NYC applicants, ensure the background check form field is also on file. 
  4. Read the mentor applicant's flag(s) if present.
  5. Read mentor interviews and match notes.
  6. Read the mentor applicant's definitions of abuse. 
  7. Review the mentor applicant's preferences to ensure they are adequately captured and tagged for match site list reporting.
  8. Confirm that the mentor applicant successfully passed their local background check requirements.
  9. Review the mentor applicant's personal and professional references.
  10. For Chicago applicants, ensure they have a 2- or 4-year college degree or have a logged exception approval.
  11. Review the mentor applicant's answers to the disclosure questions. 
  12. Review the applicant's Mentor Together preference details.
  13. The lead status of every applicant's contact record should be "Screening Prospective Mentor (SAI/SAC—attended orientation)."
  14. Make any necessary corrections and updates where applicable.
  15. Change the applicant status to RTBM. 

Let's take a look at these process steps in more depth.

1- Searching Salesforce for Duplicate Records

Part of the screening process is searching Salesforce for duplicate contact records and older applications. If the buddy approver finds duplicate contacts, they must merge them. In this search, the approver might find older applications, and they must review them for any concerning behavior. 

2- Reviewing the Mentor Applicant's Demographic Details

A buddy approver should review the mentor's birthdate to ensure they are 21 or older. They should confirm that a valid email address and phone number are populated. This ensures smooth communication during the matching season. Confirm that the applicant's home address matches the one listed in the interview transcript (in the event an applicant made a correction that wasn't reflected in the contact record).

3- Ensuring the Mentor Contract and BG Check Form on File Fields are Checked

A buddy approver should ensure that there is a mentor contract on file. This field is located in the "Applicant Overview" portion of the Salesforce application. The Background Check Form on File field must also be checked for NYC applicants only.

4- Reading The Mentor Applicant's Flag(s)

A buddy approver should review any flags on the mentor applicant's Salesforce page. Before proceeding to the next step, the buddy approver should ensure that the issue has been adequately addressed and that the flag has been resolved and closed.

5- Reading The Match Notes and Mentor Interview In Their Entirety

A buddy approver should review the match notes and mentor interview. The buddy approver ensures that the screener distilled critical details into the match notes. The buddy approver looks for any red or yellow flags in the mentor interview that the screener may have missed or overlooked. The buddy approver also ensures that the mentor has agreed to commit to the length of our program and has a schedule conducive to our program requirements.

6- Reading The Mentor Applicant's Definitions of Abuse

A buddy approver should review the mentor applicant's definitions of physical, emotional and sexual abuse to ensure that they are textbook-style definitions. Definitions should not include references to personal experience or history of abuse, should not contain explicit or offensive language, and should not be so short as to lack a definition altogether. If there are disclosures of personal experiences, check that this was communicated and approved by the AD via Chatter. If a screener has approved definitions, but a buddy approver is uncomfortable with them, it should be discussed before RTBM-ing the mentor.

7- Reviewing The Mentor Applicant's Preferences

The mentor applicant's preferences are critical for matching. They must be accurately captured in the correct places so the program operations team can utilize this data to make strong matches. Buddy approvers should look to ensure the ability to mentor a 12th grader is correctly indicated (either "Yes" or "No" in 12th Grade/Previous Match/Transfer field), that train line preferences are captured (for NYC), borough requirements are selected (if applicable), day of the week restrictions are marked (if applicable), and program length requests are selected. This information should not live only in Match Notes but should be accurately indicated in the drop-down menus and respective fields so that reports can be generated.

8- Confirming Background Check Approval

A buddy approver should confirm on Salesforce that the background check status is "Background Check Approved" with a recent eligibility date populated. Because GoPass statuses are regularly refreshed and uploaded, the eligibility date for NYC applicants should be within the past three business days. For Chicago, a TCN Number must be populated in that respective field. 

9- Reviewing Personal and Professional References

Buddy approvers should read all the submitted references in detail while considering the reference's relationship to the mentor applicant. As a reminder, only one approved reference can be from a family member or significant other/spouse, and they must have known the applicant for at least six months. Buddy approvers should look for details that may indicate that the mentor is not a safe and appropriate adult, lacks commitment, has obligations that might prevent them from participating, or has biases. Also, ensure that the confirmation field is checked and that the signature is the same person listed in the "Contact Info" section (please inform the team/send a Salesforce ticket if not).

10- Confirming The Mentor Applicant Completed a 2 or 4 Year Degree

For Chicago applicants, buddy approvers should review the collegiate data to confirm that the mentor applicant completed a 2 or 4-year degree at an accredited institution. Suppose a mentor applicant has not completed a degree but has significant professional experience in their field and a commitment to educational opportunity. In that case, they can be submitted for an exception approval. The owner should have sent a case for the mentor to the Associate Director of Screening. The Associate Director of Screening will send the case to the Executive Director of that region. If approved, the approval should be recorded in the activity history. Buddy approvers should confirm exemption approval exists before RTBM-ing. Baltimore and NYC applicants are not required to have a higher ed degree.

11- Review The Mentor Applicant's Answers To The Required Disclosures

The buddy approver should review the mentor applicant's answers to the required disclosure questions. The answers should be 'No' to all questions. Any 'Yes' will need to be reviewed and approved by AD. This will be noted in Chatter.

12- Reviewing the applicant's Mentor Together Application

If a mentor applicant has requested to be matched with a friend or colleague:

  1. Confirm the mentor together applications are linked together. This includes ensuring the mentor's app is linked to their mentor together buddy, and visa versa. NOTE: Applications only need to be linked in Salesforce if both parties are currently in Screening. If the person that the applicant asked to Mentor Together with is already RTBM, Matched, withdrawn, or similar, applications do not need to be linked. However, the relevant information should still be captured in Match Notes. 
  2. Confirm that the mentor-together buddy match's name is listed in the Match Notes of the app you are buddy approving.
  3. If applicants are a viable Mentor Together match and their applications are linked, confirm that the field "Willing to be matched without Mentor Together" is marked either Yes or No according to the applicant's preferences. Confirm that this is also captured in the Match Notes. 

       You can read more about the Mentor Together process here.

13- Checking Lead Status 

The lead status of every applicant should be checked during the buddy approval process. The lead status is located near the bottom of the applicant's contact record and is under Prospect Mentor Journey. The correct lead status for an applicant who is in screening should be Screening Prospective Mentor (SAI/SAC—attended orientation). 

14- Making Necessary Corrections and Updates

If the buddy approver notices that any of the conditions above are not met, this should be corrected before marking the applicant as RTBM. Suppose the change is a small administrative error, such as the owning screener forgetting to update an interview date or weeknight preference or close a resolved Flag. In that case, the duddy approver can make the change themselves AS LONG AS it is clear which information is the most correct and up to date. For any more significant changes, or where the Buddy Approver is unsure which information is correct, they should chatter notify the owner and request them to make the change before marking the applicant as RTBM.

15- Making the Mentor Applicant RTBM

After completing the entire buddy approval process and making any corrections/adjustments, it is up to the buddy approver to make the mentor applicant Ready To Be Matched (RTBM). This is to be done within 48 hours unless instructed by the AD of Screening. The buddy approver should change the Applicant Status to RTBM in Salesforce and save. 

When active screening and matching are happening concurrently, regional recruiting teams may want to get real-time updates about a particular mentor once they have been moved to RTBM. Thus, buddy approvers will sometimes need to update local recruitment teams once that status is updated.