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  • Writer's pictureNeedham Steps Up

Needham Steps Up Expands Mentors’ Capacity for Quality, Sustainable Service to Teens in Program

NSU Awarded NEF Grant for Mentor Training

June 21, 2022, Needham MA—Needham Steps Up (NSU), a need-based mentoring program for Needham High School (NHS) Students, successfully delivered an advanced mentorship training program thanks to a generous grant from the Needham Education Foundation (NEF). The NEF grant was awarded earlier this year to NSU board members Martha Cohen Barrett, a community member, and Elizabeth C. Zajac, Needham Public Schools K-12 Director of World Languages. NSU worked in collaboration with Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) to expand the mentors’ capacity to deliver quality, sustainable service to the teens in the NSU program.

The MMP-led workshop for mentors and consultation and train-the-trainer coaching for NSU staff and board members will enable the organization to expand the grant’s reach by offering mentor training in the future. The training workshop, which incorporated best practices in mentorship, was designed to ensure that NSU mentors are equipped to provide the best possible support to their mentees.

“The Needham Steps Up mentor team is deeply invested in honoring the diverse needs and interests of NSU mentees,” said Dr. Elizabeth Zajac. “The compassion and commitment of NSU mentors, combined with the lessons learned from the training, position NSU to fully support current and future NSU mentees. This is an exciting time for our program!”

Mentor Training for Lasting Impact

Going forward, NSU will offer annual customized training for its mentors using real-life scenarios created in consultation with NSU staff members. The annual training will focus on unique areas of study, determined by mentor needs, student life, and educational environment. The benefit of the NEF funding will be ongoing and extend well beyond its intended scope, continuing to be both empowering and unifying for mentors.

Why Mentorship and This Grant Matter

When one of Needham High School’s 2019 graduates was asked why he valued the mentorship he received through NSU, he said,

“My mentor was one of the most essential people to me graduating from Needham High, both academically and personally. As a mentor, he knew his job was more than just checking that I was getting good grades. He took it upon himself to teach me things that, frankly, no one ever would have been able to. Specifically, how to be disciplined and get things done when I needed to, and, most importantly, how to have the confidence in my abilities to know that I can achieve what I dream of: being a history teacher. It is by no means an exaggeration when I say that I would not be where I am today if he had not been my mentor. I truly cannot say enough good things about him, and the Needham Steps Up program that was able to give us both a lifelong friend.”

Needham Steps Up (NSU), and the Needham Education Foundation (NEF) share a dedication to supporting NPS students, thanks to the generosity of community members. For more information or to donate visit and follow @needhamstepsup


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