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What is a reference?

This article describes the process of vetting mentor applicant references during screening. References are vital to gaining a full picture of the applicant as family, friends, and colleagues can reveal key information. References can result in flags and can also introduce new and interesting match facts about the applicant.  

Important Reference Information: 

  1. Mentor applicants provide 3 references (name, email, phone number, and relationship to the mentor) when filling out the mentor application.   

  1. The day after orientation, the mentor applicant’s references will automatically be sent an “eReference form" to complete. Each eReference form contains a unique link that can only be used by the assigned reference.  

  1. eReference forms will continue to be sent to unresponsive references every 2 days, up to 4 times. Please try to call references and also send manually through Outlook if 4 attempts have not resulted in a response. You may ask the applicant for an additional reference even before the 4th attempt of the others. 

  1. Templates for sending manual emails to references are available in the Salesforce email widget. Please edit template accordingly, making sure to copy and paste the reference's unique link to their eReference form.  

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  • When a reference is submitted, an automated email is sent to the Screener who owns the mentor application. The Screener will review the reference and mark it as 'approved' or 'not viable' within 72 hours of receipt. 

  • We require that each mentor applicant provide three references, but if screeners have approved two viable responses, we do not need to pursue the third.  

  • Only one reference is allowed to be a family member. Please note that we consider significant others “family.”  In the case of ex-partners or ex in-laws, the distinction of "family" is determined by the applicant. If they refer to their ex as a "friend" in the eReference form, we will not consider that person "family".  

  • References MUST have known the mentor applicant for at least six months. 

  • Sometimes, applicants will submit incorrect email addresses for their references. When you get a bounce back email, look closely at it before reaching out to the mentor applicant for an updated email address. It could be an error that is easily fixed.  

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Overview of the reference questions: 

  1. Please briefly describe your relationship to the mentor   

This question is key in determining reference’s eligibility per the only one family member rule and, in certain situations, can provide helpful additional context (perhaps the reference is a former mentee, etc.).  

  1. What motivated mentor to apply?   

Gauging motivation is very important in determining mentor applicant appropriateness. This question helps to flesh out unsavory motivations for working with young people and our student population.  

  1. Applicant excels at/finds challenging 

These questions help us gain a more well-rounded picture of the mentor applicant. For example, if the mentor applicant has no patience or empathy, tends to bite off more than they can chew, or has high expectations of others the screener may want to consider possible follow up or flags. Any additional positive context is helpful in both the screening and matching processes.   

  1. Applicant responses to challenges/changes  

Adaptability and patience are key when working with young people, many of whom routinely deal with unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances in their academic and personal lives. A good mentor needs to be flexible, resourceful, and consistent regardless of whether or not things go as planned.   

  1. Applicant follow through on commitments    

Mentor consistency is an important hallmark of our program and key to student success. Studies have shown that having an inconsistent or absent mentor is worse for a young person than having no mentor at all. We hope this question will provide evidence of the applicant’s reliability. 

Please evaluate the mentor applicant in the following areas using the following scale: 5-Excellent, 4-Good, 3-Neutral, 2-Fair, 1-Poor

  1. Empathy  

  1. Flexibility  

  1. Strengths-Based Mindset  

  1. Humility  

  1. Open to Other Backgrounds/Cultures  

  1. Patience  

The attributes that the mentor applicants are being rated on are key to being a safe, consistent and appropriate mentor to a teenager. NOTE: If a mentor applicant receives three or more 3's, two or more 2's or one or more 1's, the screener must create a yellow flag in their application (in Salesforce) and discuss it with their manager. Additionally, the eReference form allows references to elaborate on any of these ratings as needed. The screener can also choose to reach out to the reference for additional context on a rating. Always discuss with your manager if you have concerns regarding a reference.  

A note on ratings: Sometimes, a reference accidentally clicks all “1’s” when they meant to select the highest possible rating of “5." An indication of this mix up would be if the rest of the reference is very positive. In these cases, the screener must reach out to the reference to confirm whether they meant to give the applicant the highest or lowest scores. The response should be logged in the applicant’s application history, and the reference can then be approved as normal.  

  1. Is there any reason this mentor applicant should not be working with minor children and teenagers? YES NO  

If the reference answers YES, a free form box will be triggered requiring the reference to explain their response. A YES response should result in a red flag being created in the mentor application on Salesforce. 

  1. Anything else about mentor?  

These types of “catch all" open-ended questions are great for getting relevant information that will help us determine a mentor applicant’s capacity to be a safe, consistent and appropriate mentor. Often questions such as this will result in random disclosures or flag-worthy responses that would not have otherwise been offered. 

  1. We are always looking for more great mentors in New York, Chicago, and Baltimore. Would you be interested in being a mentor? 

  • YES  

  • NO  





If a reference answers YES, they’re interested in becoming a mentor, it is automatically pulled into reports used by the Mentor Engagement teams in each region.  No action is needed by the screener. 

Lastly, the bottom of the eReference form requires that the reference confirm that their responses are the truth and then they MUST affix a digital signature for it to be a valid reference.  

By checking the box below, I certify that I have completed this eReference check to the best of my ability and that I did not receive input from any other parties, including the mentor applicant, in formulating my responses.   


 By typing my name in the box below, I am affixing my digital signature to this eReference Check   

NOTE: When taking a reference by phonecomplete the digital signature field with “Completed by (screener name) by phone on (date)," click confirm and then submit the reference.