NQMS Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to questions about the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS), including specific instructions for issues you might encounter while completing the assessment.

1: What is the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) based on?

The NQMS is structured, systematic process that uses an online tool to help mentoring organizations extensively assess program management, operations, and evaluation methods based the best practice guidelines outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™.

The goal of the NQMS is to better understand programs’ current strengths and help them identify areas for improvement in order to enhance future program practice and youth outcomes.

2: What are the Elements of Effective Practice for MentoringTM?

Based on the latest mentoring policies, practices, experiences, and research, the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ (EEPM) serve as the gold standard for mentoring best practices. The guidelines were developed and published by MENTOR Minnesota’s national organization, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, with the support of leading experts and researchers in the field, state mentoring partnerships, practitioners, and federal funders.

3: Does the NQMS cost my program anything?

There is no monetary cost to mentoring programs in Minnesota.

4: How does the NQMS benefit the community?
  • Youth involved in quality mentoring relationships tend to do better in school, reduce risky behaviors, build stronger relationships with adults and become contributing members of society
  • Minnesota can expect a return of $2.72 for every dollar spent on quality mentoring programs*
  • Many mentors say they benefit from the mentoring relationships as much as the youth
  • Mentoring gives our young people hope for their future!

*Based on MPM’s 2007 Social Return on Investment Study

5: How will the NQMS affect my mentoring program?

When MENTOR Minnesota launched the QMAP (the tool the NQMS was based off of), 100% of QMAP pilot participants polled said that the QMAP was valuable for their program. Participating in the assessment gave their program access to an extensive collection of resources that corresponded to specific best practices, as well as individualized training, technical assistance, and evaluation of their assessments.

The NQMS was designed to keep these benefits as part of the process. Completion of the NQMS also gives your program the chance to:

  • Validate program quality
  • Show results in funding applications
  • Pinpoint areas for improvement
    Develop an Improvement & Innovation Plan to guide organizational planning

Most importantly, the NQMS checks whether best practices are in place to ensure that youth and volunteers have the best possible mentoring experience.

6: What is a Dedicated or Expert Partner?

Click here to learn more about being a Dedicated or Expert Partner.

7: Is the NQMS a one time thing?

Programs complete the NQMS every three years so MENTOR Minnesota can track your program’s progress, recognize your achievements, and accurately portray any program changes. This provides a great opportunity for programs to engage in the continuous learning philosophy that is central the NQMS process. You will be notified two months before your three year mark and will be able to access your NQMS at that time. MENTOR Minnesota staff will set up an onsite review so we can take time to celebrate all you have accomplished and make a new Innovation and Improvement Plan detailing how you can continue improving program quality.

8: How do I know if my program is eligible for the NQMS?

Currently, the NQMS is available upon request to all Minnesota youth mentoring programs that are registered on the Mentoring Connector.

9: What if my program does not utilize volunteers?

The NQMS assessment is built around a program model that pairs volunteers with youth. However, we may be able to work with programs that provide mentoring using a variety of strategies. Please contact us to assess whether you are a good fit for NQMS.

10: I am not sure if my program is registered. How do I find out?

You can e-mail mentor@mentormn.org to find out if you are registered. You can also search for your program through the Mentoring Connector.

11: How do I register?
  • Go to Mentoring Connector
  • Click the Add a New Program button below the login fields (do not enter your email address or a password)
  • When the system asks “Do you already have Program Administrator login credentials?,” select “No”.
  • Enter requested info on your mentoring program.
  • Remember that what you enter in the Program Description and Mentor Description fields will be visible to anyone searching for programs through the system, so please use clear and informative language.
  • Click “Submit” when finished.
12: I am eligible. Is my program ready to complete the NQMS?

We find that programs that have been actively matching and working with mentors and mentees for at least one year are usually ready to start the NQMS. Programs should also have an interest in developing quality practices in their work and staff that have the capacity to complete the program assessment, participate in the review process, and implement the Innovation and Improvement Plan.

13: How long does it take to go through the NQMS tool?

The time it takes to complete the NQMS tool varies from program to program based on staff capacity and how accessible the needed information is. We suggest completing the NQMS within six to eight weeks after you receive access.

14: What do I need to get started?

You will need a computer with high-speed Internet access, your program manual or operational guide, and time. Before beginning the assessment, you need to be registered on the Mentoring Connector. Register here.

15: Within an organization, who should conduct the assessment?

The person or people who have the most knowledge about your program processes, policies and history are best positioned to lead the self assessment process. Many programs have found it useful to involve multiple staff members in the assessment process. Some programs have even involved other stakeholders, such as board members.

16: I cannot remember my program login information. What should I do?

Your username is the email address of the Program Administrator. If you don’t know that email address, contact connector@mentoring.org to assign a new Program Administrator. Be sure to include the program’s name and the new Program Administrator’s name, email address, title and phone number. If you don’t remember your password, click the “Forgot Password?” button in the Mentoring Connector Login box.

17: While filling out the NQMS, I got an error message. What should I do?

Please take a screenshot and print the error message so that you can show MENTOR Minnesota what it said. If for some reason you cannot do either of these things, write down every detail from the screen that you can – what the error message says, whether it is displayed in the browser or a dialog box, if it included the MENTOR Minnesota logo, and anything else that might be pertinent. This information will help MENTOR Minnesota pinpoint what went wrong and more quickly come up with a proper solution.

18: Who can see my program’s quality assessment?

Only MENTOR Minnesota staff and select MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership evaluation and administrative staff will have access to your results, which will remain confidential. On occasion, MENTOR Minnesota will report on aggregate finding based on all programs who have completed the NQMS. Your programs results will never be identified individually.

19: Is there a collection of resources specific to the NQMS that might help me complete the tool?

Yes. From any section in the NQMS, you can click on “Resources” in the questions. Each Resources link will open a new window or tab and take you to the appropriate point on the NQMS Resources webpage, which is full of guidelines, general information, and templates.

20: What happens after I submit my NQMS?

MENTOR Minnesota is notified of your NQMS submission. One of our staff will send an email letting you know that we have received your NQMS and will be scheduling an NQMS Review.

21: Can I still access the NQMS Resources webpage after I submit my NQMS?

The NQMS resources are available to anyone at any time at the following URL: http://www.nationalmentoringresourcecenter.org/index.php/component/content/article.html?layout=edit&id=183/#A

22: I don't see a submit button. Where can I find it?

The submit button will appear once your NQMS is 100% complete. It will appear on the main page of the NQMS assessment.

23: I have completed and submitted my NQMS. Now what?

MENTOR Minnesota staff will be notified of your NQMS submission. One of our staff will send an email letting you know that we have received your NQMS and will be scheduling an NQMS Review.

24: What is an NQMS Review?

MENTOR Minnesota staff will review your NQMS responses then contact you to schedule an onsite review. During this review, we will discuss your current mentoring practices and work together to develop an Improvement and Innovation Plan (I&I Plan) for the next 12 months.

25: What is an Improvement and Innovation Plan?

The Improvement and Innovation Plan (I&I Plan) is designed to summarize the onsite review and provide feedback about the strengths and areas for improvement in three key program areas; management, operations, and evaluation. This document will detail 3-5 priority areas or action items for your program to focus on in the next 6-12 months.

26: How long after I submit the NQMS will my site visit be?

Within two weeks of submitting your NQMS assessment, MENTOR Minnesota staff will contact you to schedule a meeting to review your responses. The onsite visits are usually scheduled for between 3 and 4 weeks after the NQMS is submitted, depending on the alignment of the mentoring program and MENTOR Minnesota staff schedules.

27: How long will the site visit last?

The site visit usually lasts about 2-3 hours. However, we recommend setting aside a half day so you can fully engage in the onsite review.

28: I have a grant application deadline coming up. Can you help me?

We will do our best to accommodate the program’s funding and reporting deadlines so please talk to one of our staff about your needs. The NQMS process takes a minimum of 4-6 weeks from start to finish.

29: Who will complete the NQMS review with us?

A MENTOR Minnesota staff member from our Program Services team will complete the review. Another MENTOR Minnesota staff may be present as well to assist with the review.

30: Who from my program should be at the site visit?

Anyone who played a significant role in completing the NQMS self-assessment should be present at the onsite review. You may also want to include anyone who plays a key role in program leadership, development, or evaluation. You will get a detailed written summary of the visit, called an Innovation and Improvement Plan, to share with anyone not present who may play a role in implementing changes going forward.

31: What will we do at the site visit?

At the site visit, we will ask some general questions about your program history and then we will walk through the NQMS section by section and ask clarifying questions to get a better understanding of your program.

32: How should I prepare for the site visit?

Come ready to discuss your responses to the NQMS program management, operations, and evaluation questions. Please bring any additional materials you think would be helpful for the reviewers such as program brochures, program planning documents, or participant forms.

33: What happens after the site visit?

Within two weeks of the site visit, we will provide you with an NQMS summary that includes a letter from our executive director, Mai-Anh Kapanke; an Innovation and Improvement Plan detailing both the strengths and areas of growth for the program, as well as 3-4 priorities to work on over the next 6 months; a Statement of Accuracy; and a list of benefits and recognition for becoming a Dedicated or Expert Partner. The Statement of Accuracy is a document to be signed by a key leader at your organization to create organization wide awareness of the programs participation in NQMS, to verify that we have the most updated information from your program, and to ensure that you will have leadership support as you begin to implement your Improvement and Innovation Plan.

In addition, we will follow up with any resources that we talked about during the visit. A MENTOR Minnesota staff member will check in at the 3, 6, and 9 month mark via e-mail or phone to offer any additional assistance and support that is needed. After 12 months, MENTOR Minnesota staff will set up a mini-review of the NQMS to make any necessary changes and update your Innovation and Improvement Plan. The MENTOR Minnesota staff is available at any time to offer assistance and resources. We encourage you to contact us at any time with questions or to make changes to your NQMS.

34: How long does it take to complete the rest of the NQMS Process?

During the site review, MENTOR Minnesota staff will go over your NQMS results with you and help you develop a 12-month Improvement & Innovation Plan. At this point, program leadership will be asked to sign a Statement of Accuracy and your program will become one of MENTOR Minnesota’s Dedicated or Expert Partners, granting your program access to exclusive benefits. The length of this process varies depending on your our NQMS reviewers’ schedules and capacity. Expert of Dedicated Partner status will not be granted until all documents, including the Statement of Accuracy, are completed and returned to MENTOR Minnesota.

35: What is a Dedicated or Expert Partner?

Click [here] to learn more about being a Dedicated or Expert Partner.

36: When does my Dedicated or Expert Partner status expire?

Programs complete the NQMS tool every three years so MENTOR Minnesota can accurately portray program changes, track progress, and recognize your program’s achievements. This also provides an opportunity for programs to engage in the continuous learning philosophy that is central the NQMS process. You will be notified two months before your three year mark and will be able to access your NQMS at that time. MENTOR Minnesota staff will set up a site review and take time to celebrate all you have done and make a new Innovation and Improvement Plan detailing where you want the program to go next.

37: How can MENTOR Minnesota staff support me?

We are here to support your program at any time. Please don’t hesitate to contact a staff member at MENTOR Minnesota if you are looking for resources, need support in a specific program area, or simply want to bounce an idea off of another person in the mentoring field. We would also love to hear from you if you are experiencing any significant program changes or in any transition that may impact your program’s sustainability. We are here to support you in whatever ways are most helpful to your program!

38: If I have a question that is not in the FAQ, who should I contact?

Please contact our staff at mentor@mentormn.org or at 612-800-5990.