1st Edition

Teach to Work How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America

By Patty Alper Copyright 2017
    284 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The United States is abundantly rich in adults with "know how." By connecting mentors -- educated adults with expertise and knowledge -- with mentees -- teens and young adults who lack motivation, experience, and role models in their lives -- we can begin to close this gap dramatically. We can prepare the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow by adding real-world, project based experience to their education.

    Teach to Work is a call to action for mentors currently sitting on the sidelines. Whether you are a banker, lawyer, architect, accountant, engineer, IT specialist, or artist, you have the experience and skillset to become an ambassador of talent, grit, and transferable skills. The book provides a step-by-step guide to help professionals share their knowledge with the next generation of workers through this intergenerational experience.

    Based on Alper’s fifteen years of mentoring inner-city high-school students, Teach to Work proves how corporations, professionals, and boomers can have a significant impact on the professional future of America’s youth. Drawing from real-life stories and letters received from students, teachers, and fellow mentors describing pride of accomplishment, Alper helps professionals embark on this journey to transform lives, mentoring one student at a time.

    Part One: Why Mentor

    Chapter 1 Giving Corporations a Soul The Benefits of a Workforce That Mentors

    Chapter 2 Professionals Find Meaning in Mentoring Forging Win–Win Relationships

    Chapter 3 A Student’s Lifeline Inspiring Students Because You Did It and They Can Too

    Part Two: How to Mentor

    Chapter 4 Project Based Mentoring An Intergenerational Catalyst

    Chapter 5 Rules of Engagement Establishing Expectations and Parameters

    Chapter 6 Meet the Teacher Setting the Course

    Chapter 7 First-Day Jitters A Game Plan to Get You Started

    Chapter 8 One on One Building Rapport, One Student at a Time

    Chapter 9 Lesson Plans for Leading the Class The World Through Your Lens

    Chapter 10 The Art of Presenting Turning Students into Teachers

    Chapter 11 Bringing Class to a Close What Happens to MentorMentee Relationships

    Appendix A Call to Action Mentors’ Resource Guide


    Patty Alper is president of the Alper Portfolio Group, a marketing and consulting company, and is a board member of both the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and US2020, the White House initiative to build mentorship in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. She has also been appointed to the corporate committee for Million Women Mentors. Patty’s experiences have led her to roles as a prominent speaker and the author of Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America. Patty’s 35-year career in business, coupled with two decades of hands-on experience working directly with youth, uniquely qualifies her to understand the growing skills gap from both perspectives: the employers who seek to build a pipeline and hire better-prepared youth for twenty-first century jobs, and the youth who are often ill-equipped or ill-trained to enter the new workforce.

    In her book and speaking engagements, Patty describes how Project Based Mentorship® brings together corporate employees, retirees, and businesses as a corps of knowledge practitioners, with the common goal of passing on skills to the next generation. Patty draws on her extensive philanthropic work to bring the business and education sectors together meaningfully, building on the strength of each to close the skills gap. A trustee of the Alper Family Foundation for the last 18 years, Patty’s unique approach to entrepreneurial mentorship has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post (twice), TIME, and Philanthropy Magazine.

    Through her services on the national board of NFTE, Patty’s vision served as the groundwork for the Adopt-a-Class program she founded in 2001. During her years of service at NFTE, she invited countless business leaders to join her in a mentoring capacity, helping teachers across the country inspire and coach entrepreneurship students on their business plans. Shortly after college, Patty spent five years working with incarcerated, runaway, and suicidal youth in Iowa’s Youth Detention System, and she served as a counselor to psychotic adolescents at Chestnut Lodge, a long-term psychiatric hospital in Maryland.

    In 1980, Patty was one of the first women in the construction field as cofounder of a multi-million dollar project management company. The company specialized in building corporate headquarter facilities and high-end interiors for large businesses in the DC market. That innovative spark led Patty to another niche, producing and hosting her own radio talk show, For Love or Money, on Infinity broadcasting. Today, the Alper Portfolio Group provides consulting services for the commercial real estate, financial, and non-profit sectors.

    Patty holds a bachelors degree in English and Theology from Cornell College Iowa, and she has continued masters-level marketing studies at American University. She is married and has two stepchildren, as well as a grandchild. She loves competitive golf, art, theater, and music, and continues her study of theology.

    "This book has many ideas about how to really engage business in schools and the education of children because Patricia Alper has masterfully written about a model with clarity, giving solid examples while being engaging. I have no doubt this model would work in the real world of schools and be impactful for both mentors and their mentees. Especially compelling is the description of project based learning which could be used in teacher preparation programs in order to teach students how to implement active learning projects…it is particularly insightful about selecting the right project and placing it within the mentors’ professional experience. I have rarely seen any proposed relationship between business and education to be so meaningful, building on the strengths of each partner and enhancing the work of both."

    —Mari Koerner, PhD, dean of Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University

    "With clear writing and fascinating case studies, Patricia Alper presents the business world with a compelling call to service. Unlike more general approaches to mentoring, engaging youth in project based learning is intuitive, scalable, and broadly applicable. As the book makes clear, mentoring that is grounded in shared interests and the expertise of mentors represents one of the best hopes for bridging the social capital gap, opening doors, and ultimately enriching the lives of many."

    —Dr. Jean Rhodes, Frank L. Boyden Professor of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Boston; director of the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring

    "I put off reading your materials until I could focus my mind and heart on your message—I have to tell you—your work gave me goosebumps. Not only do I love your writing style, I think it’s great that your work is grounded in your personal experience. Most importantly, your message reflects the core tenets of our organization’s mission, and coincides with my own professional beliefs."

    —Rebecca A. Corbin, EdD, president and CEO, The National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE)

    "I had the pleasure of reading excerpts from your book—I love the writing—it’s crisp and real. For the corporate sector, the collection of case studies in one single place is going to be so helpful, particularly those who want to talk about honest-to-goodness commitment and engagement. Thank you for taking on this project."

    —Deborah Holmes, Americas director, corporate social responsibility, Ernst & Young LLP

    "Patty makes a compelling case that if we’re serious about closing the opportunity gap in school and work; we need more caring adults to get involved as mentors. We need a mentoring revolution. Teach to Work is a passionate, firsthand account of how to mentor well from someone who has been serving on the front lines. This is an invaluable resource for individual volunteers, corporate community relations teams, and school partners."

    —Nick Hutchinson, executive director, US2020

    "Leveraging the unique skill sets of our employees and allowing them to bring their ‘whole self’ to a volunteer experience has proven to be a win–win for all. Employees are proactively seeking mentoring opportunities while mentees are benefiting from our community outreach. Patty is spot on that providing a Project Based Mentoring experience is the way to go."

    —Susan Warner, vice president, worldwide communications, MasterCard

    "In my heart of hearts, Patty, I know you are right when you talk about a Project Based Mentoring experience as the catalyst in an intergenerational mentor–mentee relationship. This idea contributes to the work we have all been doing in mentorship, and I applaud you for taking this on."

    —Marc Freedman, founder and CEO of Encore.org, author of Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life and The Kindness of Strangers

    "Patty, did you ever know 10 years ago, that you could change people’s lives? I talk about spiritual genetics in my latest book, where each of us can choose the spirit of who we want to become. It does not have to be within a family’s bloodlines. You have made a difference in the lives of these kids, and most likely you have made a difference in the lives of their kids as well. They have grabbed hold of your light, because they feel your encouragement and kindness, and maybe because they had no other. Thank you for your important leadership in this role."

    --Chris Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happyness, from his 2010 NFTE "Dare to Dream" speech

    "Impressively informative, thoughtful, thought provoking, practical, and inspirational, "Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation..."

    -- Margaret Lane, Midwest Book Review

    "Five out of five stars...This is an engaging, fun book to read and the content is timeless."

    -- Charles Ashbacher Reviews 

    "Teach to Work is a unique book, in that it relates to topics of potential interest to skills development mainly in the management consulting, retail, and general small and large business sectors, which rely more heavily on publications such as the Harvard Business Review; however, the book has a wider range of impact because it has the potential to relate to skills development in diverse disciplines, and more importantly, to the use of experiential learning for students seeking enriching careers in their respective fields of interest...I wholeheartedly support her call to action for a cultural revolution that features mentoring as a foundational learning and skills development activity."

    -- Guy Gilron Borealis Environmental Consulting, Canada, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management