September 19, 2017—The LIHEAP Clearinghouse is pleased to announce the start of a new LIHEAP Network Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program for interested LIHEAP grantees and their staff. The program, the brain-child of the Division of Energy Assistance (DEA) of the Office of Community Services (OCS), is intended to promote productive relationships, technical and functional skills, and competencies in the LIHEAP Grantee Network as well as increase retention and sustainability of LIHEAP staff. It is also designed to create and retain a strong network of technical specialists from across state, territorial and tribal grantees who can provide appropriate technical and program support.
The Clearinghouse will be acting as a central point of contact for program participants and will facilitate and monitor the program as well as offer guidance as needed. There are three key facets to the program, ranging in time commitment and formality.
- The LIHEAP Institute
The LIHEAP Institute’s curriculum, developed with partners across the country, will aid in training the LIHEAP Network in a wide suite of skills over the 4-month program. This program is intended to support new LIHEAP staff or LIHEAP staff interested in advancing their careers or learning new roles within their agency. The webinar-based monthly seminars will be facilitated by a peer mentor and are open to all participants of the program. Each month focuses on a theme that strengthens the Network in a wide-range of relevant topics.
- The Mentoring Connection
The mentoring connection is intended to serve as a robust way to connect LIHEAP grantees who are interested in refining or creating new policies, procedures, or initiatives with mentors who have successfully implemented a similar policy, procedure, or initiative. This tier of the program will foster relationships between grantees on an as-needed basis and can range in time commitment from a few phone calls, to months of providing guidance, trouble-shooting, and mentorship.
The Clearinghouse will provide orientation to mentors and mentees through a one-hour training webinar at the onset of joining the program. The orientation is a required prerequisite to activities of the Mentoring Connection and are designed to outline program expectations, objectives, activities, and ensure that program participants are able to ask questions about the program before making a commitment.
- The Grantee Forum
The Grantee Forum is an online forum that enables state, tribal, and territorial grantees to share program knowledge with one another in an informal manner and on topic-specific needs. This is a tool that can be utilized across the Network and without the need for a significant time commitment.
Mentor partners for these programs will be selected from current LIHEAP grantees—both State and Tribal—and from a pool of qualified volunteers who have previously served in an official capacity within the LIHEAP Network. A sign-up sheet is available on the Clearinghouse website for interested mentors who wish to participate in the program. Recruitment for this program is focused on identifying and enlisting individuals with specific attributes, experience, skills or knowledge that align with mentees’ needs and goals.
Mentees will be selected from new or current staff members of LIHEAP grantees, but are not limited to state directors. Mentees can include any current or new member of grantee staff of all levels and experience—both state and tribal. Interested mentees may apply through an interest sign-up sheet available on the Clearinghouse website. Mentees may also be nominated by their supervisor or partner organization such as OCS, NEADA, and APPRISE to participate in the program.
Mentors and mentees will receive recognition for their efforts to promote productive relationships, technical and functional skills, and competencies in the LIHEAP Grantee Network; both will receive a letter of recognitions signed by OCS and delivered to both the mentor and their supervisor, as well as public recognition at a regional or national training. Mentors will also be highlighted in a monthly “Mentor Spotlight” email with a brief bio and accolades.
The Clearinghouse has heard from grantees that the key to learning, innovating, and developing the best LIHEAP programs is networking with their peers to share advice, best practices, and information. Contact Erin Steuer if you or someone you work with would benefit from participating. There are plenty of opportunities to participate as either a mentor or a mentee at varying levels of time commitment and formalities based on individual needs and time constraints. Erin can also be reached at (406) 494-8641.