PROGRAMS

LINKED MENTORING

Why Linked Mentoring? 

Linked Mentoring, a program of GSA Link, Inc., has the primary goal to connect LGBTQ+ youth with an LGBTQ+ mentor, so that the two can develop a trusting, supportive, mutually positive connection. Linked Mentoring was founded in 2019, with its launch expected to be in February 2020.

 

The youth who participate in the Linked Mentoring Program’s voices, wants, and needs will be centered, as we encourage our mentors and mentees to have an active and integral role in steering and shaping this program. We envision a community in which each young person involved in our program experiences nurturing one-to-one relationships and community support. This will be accomplished through co-creating brave spaces where youth can support and empower each other to be their most authentic selves.

Linked LGBTQ+ Mentoring Program

Our current program runs meetings every Saturday through April 25th, 12:30-2:30 on Clark University's campus. Mentors are trained students from Clark University. 

Few peer mentoring programs that focus specifically on LGBTQ+ youth currently exist, because of this, GSA Link is looking to help establish and develop these important peer-to-peer relationships.  Growing up, LGBTQ+ youth are often exposed to violence, marginalization, alienation, and  rejection from a potential variety of sources: family members, peers, teachers, strangers, and  the media, based on their LGBTQ+ identities. Many LGBTQ+ youth are not in situations where  they have access to LGBTQ+ folks older than them who are invested in their success, growth,  and identity development.  

Through a variety of meeting styles, both one-on-one and group-centered sessions, with a  focus on a different topic or skill each week, we will assist in developing mutually enjoyable  connections. This variety of meeting styles will help to not only grow the connection between  the pairing, but encourage the youth to interact with others in their own age group to develop  multiple networks of support. The community and relationships built together may ultimately  help the youth to navigate challenges they face in identity exploration, coming out, breaking  down internalized messages of hate, advocating for themselves, and identifying their passions.  

 

By emphasizing the importance of coming together as a community to support LGBTQ+ youth,  the Linked LGBTQ+ Mentoring program’s goal is to connect LGBTQ+ youth with an LGBTQ+  mentor, so that the two can develop a trusting, supportive, mutually positive connection.  Research on outcomes for young people engaged in mentoring relationships overwhelmingly  shows benefits for both parties, including increased self-esteem, higher academic  performance, and healthier relationships. 

 

Interested in being a mentor or mentee with our Linked mentoring program? We'd love to have you! 

Meet The Team

Melissa Clark

 

Executive Director
 

(she/her/hers)

As Executive Director, Melissa oversees the multiple components of the Linked Mentoring program and works to direct and support and the Linked Advisory Board. Melissa, president of GSA Link, is also a speaker and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth. She is passionate about creating a world for LGBTQ+ to thrive, feel empowered and live their most authentic and successful lives. Melissa enjoys spending her free time with her two sons and loving husband.  

Jake Sullivan

 

Linked Project Manager
 

(he/him/his)

As project manager, Jake focused mostly on policy, procedure, and curriculum development while working with the Linked Mentoring Program. Jake is a senior at Clark University majoring in Psychology and minoring in Community, Youth, Education Studies. He is currently conducting research for his honors thesis on how LGBTQ+ young adults construct the role of social media in their gender and sexuality development. He has also been involved with Worcester-based nonprofit AIDS Project Worcester as a Peer Leader for an LGBTQ+ youth group. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, writing poetry, and spending time with friends.

Elijah Cohen-Gordon

 

Mentor Manager
 

(he/him/his)

Eli is a first-year student at Clark University where he is studying history and education. He is a queer transgender man who began his medical transition at fourteen years old, and has since advocated for transgender youth's rights. Elijah is very involved with Jewish life on campus, and also serves as the Vice President of Public Relations at Clark's Hillel. His passions include writing, reading, proper queer representation in media, and helping others.

Taylor Murphy

 

Mentor Manager
 

(he/they/she) 

Taylor is a Psychology and Women & Gender Studies major at Clark University. They are also involved with Clark’s LGBTQ+ group, Prism, and enjoy connecting queer students from all over Worcester. Taylor likes to challenge gender role conventions when competing in ballroom dancing and aspires to be a professor of gender psychology. 

Linked Theory of Change

THEORY OF CHANGE

Growing up, LGBTQ+ youth are often exposed to violence, marginalization, alienation, and rejection from a potential variety of sources: family members, peers, teachers, strangers, and the media, based on their LGBTQ+ identities. Many LGBTQ+ youth do not currently have access to LGBTQ+ folks older than them who are invested in their success, growth, and identity development.

By emphasizing the importance of coming together as a community to support LGBTQ+ youth, the Linked Mentoring program’s goal is to connect LGBTQ+ youth with an LGBTQ+ mentor, so that the two can develop a trusting, supportive, mutually positive connection. This will be promoted and encouraged through a variety of meeting styles, both one-on-one and group-centered sessions, which each week will focus on a different topic or skill, along with field trips to assist in developing mutually enjoyable connections. This variety of meeting styles will help to not only grow the connection between the pairing, but encourage the youth to interact with others in their own age group to develop multiple networks of support. The community and relationships built will ultimately help the youth involved in our program to better navigate challenges they may face in identity exploration, coming out, breaking down internalized messages of hate. This may also assist in developing self-advocacy skills, and in identifying their passions.  This program has been designed and implemented in an intersectional way that acknowledges and at its core, values all of our mentors’ and mentee’s identities through intentional pairings, diverse guest speakers/presenters, and thoughtful activity. We aim to create brave spaces where youth can support and empower each other to be their most authentic selves, which will be measured through a continuous check-in process.

A key value in the development and progression of Linked LGBTQ+ Mentoring is the empowerment of youth in centering their voices, wants, and needs, encouraging our mentors and mentees to have an active and integral role in steering and shaping this program. As a concrete strategy to achieve this, youth will initially engage in a project -- whether internally or externally based (i.e. a community service project, an art showcase, identity mural, etc.) -- in which they create and present with the guidance of mentors. Success in these goals will be measured by sustained positive relationships between the mentees and mentors, and in both parties’ active engagement in co-creating the space, activities, and sense of community.

ABOUT US

The Link that Connects.
GSA Link offers a dynamic opportunity for LGBTQ+ youth to connect and become part of a strong, healthy, safe community. Through building strong connections, empowering education, and inspiring action we pave a path for success.

CONTACT

508-735-1267

 

projectgsalink@gmail.com

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