Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM)

About This Program

Target Population: Youth (ages 7+) with current or prior experience in foster care

For children/adolescents ages: 7 – 21

Program Overview

Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM) is designed to empower youth who have been impacted by foster care through committed mentoring relationships and the development of essential life skills. Using a trauma-informed and strengths-based lens, SLM aims to promote healthy development & youth well-being through three programs:

  • Community-based Mentoring consists of SLM matching volunteer adult mentors with youth in foster care in 1:1 mentoring relationships. Each match meets in the young person’s community to engage in activities that encourage skill development and building strong relationships. Matches are supported by clinically informed staff providing intensive match support, resource-brokering, and paid leadership opportunities.
  • Learn & Earn is a curriculum-based life skills program for teens and young adults, many who are aging out of foster care. It covers financial education, career readiness, incentives, 1:1 support of a volunteer mentor, and clinically informed match support.
  • The Silver Lining Mentoring Institute provides Training and Technical Assistance to provide best practices and strategic consulting to practitioners starting or implementing mentoring programs for youth impacted by foster care.

Program Goals

The goals of Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM) are:

  • Increase Social Connectedness - Youth achieve consistent positive relationships with others. They have a sense of well-being and belonging. They have positive relationships with peers and with adults.
  • Promote Self-Efficacy - Youth are able to choose a path, set goals, self-advocate, and make progress towards those goals. They are aware of new opportunities and can envision a positive future for themselves.
  • Build Social Emotional Skills - Youth are able to express and manage their emotions. They continue developing a set of social skills, including empathy, prosocial coping strategies, emotional regulation, and social and workplace etiquette.
  • Promote Positive Identity – Across all aspects of identify (race, gender, culture, class, etc.), youth are self-aware and self-empowered. They see the value in their own voices and develop a sense of belonging.
  • Build Resiliency – Youth are determined to achieve their goals and navigate systems of oppression.
  • Develop Essential Life Skills – These include finding housing, navigating public transportation, taking care of their health needs, and obtaining and managing important identification documents.
  • Increase Financial literacy - Youth expand their knowledge about obtaining & managing a checking and savings account, credit reports and scores, and can apply critical financial concepts, such as interest rates, needs versus wants, and budgeting, into their daily and long-term financial goals.
  • Promote Preparedness for employment & educational progression – Youth gain and practice necessary hard and soft skills (e.g., creating a resume, mock-interviewing, etc.)

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM).

Essential Components

The essentials components of Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM) include:

  • A minimum one-year commitment from volunteer mentors to be matched with one mentee
  • Intentional and youth-driven mentee/mentor matching practices
  • Minimum of 9 hours of screening done for volunteer mentors (1-hour information session, 1-hour interview, and at least 7 hours of mentor training, and a post-training interview)
  • Training for volunteer mentors includes training on the foster care system, terms and language, attachment theory, effects of trauma and abuse, William Bridges Transition Framework, assessment and training around diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging, realistic/unrealistic expectations, healthy boundaries, and a mentor and mentee panel
  • Mentors maintain consistent meetings with youth in the youth's community setting (twice per month, for a minimum of 8 hours per month)
  • One clinically trained program coordinator per match with as little turn over in program coordinators as possible
  • Program Coordinators utilize a trauma-informed, strengths-based and youth focused lens to support all program participants. Additionally, they are trained to utilize the Attachment Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework.
  • Monthly reporting and data collection from mentor to staff
  • Proactive match support; active outreach to mentor and mentee at least once a month
  • Organized group events every other month
  • Opportunities for youth 14 and older to take on leadership roles, paid roles, and learn life skills with a financial matched-savings component
  • Quantitative and qualitative data collection before match and annually after the match is made
  • Annual mentor/mentee match anniversary meeting to celebrate the match’s journey together & to renew contracts customized to each match
  • Provide Intentional and clinically appropriate support to keep matches engaged. This includes individualized outreach (e.g., phone calls, cards, letters, emails, care packages); access to financial assistance and resource-brokering; reimbursement for some mentor travel costs when needed; keeping matches informed about community events & other opportunities.
  • Facilitate a healthy closure to any match that ends – give as much notice as possible (planned is better than unexpected loss); create memory books and transitional objects to help with the good-bye; take the time to explain reasons for closure and make sure youth knows it is not their fault; offer youth continued participation in Silver Lining Mentoring programs

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Behaviors and beliefs that are the result of disrupted relationships, trauma, abuse, and/or neglect (e.g., anger, attachment, social/emotional capacity, etc.)

Recommended Intensity:

At least 8 hours per month and to make contact (by phone, email, etc.) at least one time per week

Recommended Duration:

At least 1-year of mentoring; the average mentoring relationship is 55 months

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Daily Living Setting
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care


This program does not include a homework component.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Office space and equipment for staff (e.g., phone, computer, internet access), training room/space (in office or out in the community).

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Master's level degree in social work or equivalent degree and/or work experience.

Manual Information

There is not a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training can be provided in a variety of settings including onsite, regionally, etc. Check out the training website above or contact Colby Swettberg to discuss training needs.

Number of days/hours:

SLM tailors training to the needs of individual organizations/partnerships.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Silver Lining Mentoring (SLM).

Additional References

MENTOR. (2009). Elements of effective practice for mentoring, (4th ed.).

Stevens, A. (2020, Feb. 12). Mentoring foster youth is high-impact, low-cost but rare, Institute says. Youth Today.

Contact Information

Colby Swettberg, M.Ed., LCSW
Title: CEO
Agency/Affiliation: Silver Lining Mentoring
Phone: (617) 224-1305

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: August 2023

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: August 2022

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2012