"In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity."
`A`ALI`I Mentoring (AM) germinated when long-time friends Cathy Ching and Grace Saturnia reconnected hiking on Wiliwilinui Ridge in December 2020. Their conversation not only covered updates on family and friends, but also challenges faced by the next generation exacerbated by the pandemic. Having recently been laid off as a school counselor, Cathy shared her dream of starting a mentoring nonprofit. Grace shared her experience during the pandemic as a volunteer college essay coach for isolated seniors who were at home studying remotely. Following their hike, Cathy and Grace set out to explore the idea of a nonprofit serving young people.
Months of research and meeting with various educators, school administrators, leaders in the nonprofit community, and most importantly, young people, validated the idea that a mentoring nonprofit would fill a need in the community. They learned that young people, especially those from underserved communities who lack access to resources and opportunities, could benefit from an empathetic and non-judgmental adult. These mentors could serve as a resource, advocate, and occasional “nudger,” helping them persevere in higher education. In-person mentoring experiences can also play a impactful role in a young adult's life given the isolation and disconnection caused by the pandemic.
Inspired by their own mentoring experiences, Cathy and Grace firmly believe that mentoring is transformative and mutually beneficial for the mentee and mentor. The crises of the pandemic, a job termination, and a need in the community created a great opportunity: establishing `A`ALI`I Mentoring, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting young adults from underserved communities in Hawaii persist in higher education and beyond.
Cathy and Grace chose the `a`ali`i as the namesake of their mentoring organization because this hardy native plant possesses qualities they see in `A`ALI`I Mentees. `A`ali`i, revered for its resilience and beauty, are known for thriving in adverse conditions and in a variety of elevations and environments. AM's goal is for `A`ALI`I Mentees to embody the strength of the `a`ali`i, confident in their ability to thrive.
Currently in its second year, AM’s in-person program includes one-to-one mentoring and group cohort workshops covering relevant topics such as personal finance, career exploration and readiness, and interpersonal skills supporting young people on their life journey.
Following the success of the pilot program with the 2021-22 "AM1" cohort, AM is launching a Year 2 program starting in September 2022 for AM1 Mentees who expressed interest in staying connected with AM.