In 2016, The MENTOR Network provided 72 continuing education awards to staff through its Pay It Forward Education and Enrichment Program, which helps employees take advantage of opportunities for professional development and enrichment.
Launched in 2014, the Pay It Forward program empowers award recipients to increase their knowledge and skills in their area of service, reducing cost as a barrier to continuing their education. Awards are given for a wide range of learning enrichment opportunities, including college courses, certifications and executive education programs.
“The Pay It Forward program is designed to help further educational opportunities for our employees,” said Joy Kruppa, Vice President of Organizational Development and Talent Management for The MENTOR Network. “The deepened knowledge and skills an employee receives as a result of continuing their education may be paid forward by educating their colleagues or improving the lives of the individuals they serve by becoming more skilled.”
To apply for a Pay It Forward award, applicants are required to complete an essay explaining how their desired learning opportunity would make them more effective in their current job role and how they would “pay it forward” to benefit others. Recipients of this year’s awards reported that the program enabled them to pursue career goals while empowering them to offer a higher level of service to the people they serve.
Shannon Thomas, a job coach with MENTOR Maryland, noted that the training made possible by her award helped her more fully understand the unique needs of the youth and families she serves. This has enabled her to provide more personalized and effective service.
“I have been able to learn about trauma informed care, which is essential in dealing with the population that we serve. I have also learned different ways to assess and manage crisis situations, which have been a tremendous help,” said Shannon. “This learning opportunity has proven to be a valuable point in my education and overall employment. I am looking forward to continuously applying the education and skills that I have acquired through this great experience.”