This time of year, most of us make New Year’s resolutions. Some of these resolutions stick, some don’t. In 2017, I resolve to send more kids to college and I know that’s an intention I will keep. My resolution to eat healthier is another story. But the point of this post is not to help you attain your goals, rather to help you set a New Year’s resolution that will make such an impact you’ll want to commit to it for the rest of the year — and beyond.

In 2016, my Give Something Back Foundation partnered with eight new institutions of higher education. Those partnerships have made more than 250 seats available for high-achieving students of modest means to go to and graduate from college in four years at no cost for tuition, fees, and room and board. The only costs incurred will be for books, lab fees and transportation, which can be paid for by the student through a part-time job on campus.

Those of you familiar with my foundation know that the more college scholarships we fund, the more mentors we need to support these students through high school so they will be ready for success when they are accepted at one of our partner universities.

Being a mentor has the potential to be one of the most gratifying experiences of your life. A quick skim at today’s news headlines reveals that people — particularly young people — need more hope. By mentoring students in need, you will not only impact those young people – but you’ll impact the world around them.

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, research shows, “mentoring can help people academically, emotionally, and socially; it can steer them clear of trouble and toward college, career, and a better life.”

Mentoring makes underrepresented young people believe there is someone who cares about them, that they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and that they matter.

Obviously, not all kids have access to quality mentoring — which is a key to closing the achievement gap.

That’s why the Give Something Back Foundation screens, trains and properly matches its mentors to mentees to ensure long-term involvement. There’s a strong likelihood that students who experience quality mentoring will become mentors themselves someday. In fact, 90 percent of those who were mentored in their past become interested in becoming a mentor themselves, according to the National Mentoring Partnership.

Mentoring is also a shared opportunity for growth. When you mentor, the rewards gained are as substantial for you as they are for your mentee. You have fun, you learn more about yourself, improve your self-esteem, gain a better understanding of other cultures and a greater appreciation for diversity. And, you can enhance your relationship with your own family.

How do you know if you’re mentor material?

Being a mentor doesn’t mean you need to know all the answers — or even give all the answers if you know what they are. Rather, a mentor provides guidance and insight. A mentor not only listens, but is willing to share, too, because your ups and downs will help your mentee navigate his or her own challenges.

And being a Give Back mentpr doesn’t require a huge time commitment. In addition to training and occasional events throughout the year, all our foundation requires is that you devote an hour a week to keep in contact with your mentee, and that you check in with our staff monthly. You can meet weekly with your mentee at a local library or coffee shop, work on homework, and sometimes take trips to the movies or museums. Many mentoring connections are likely to resonate for years.

Being a mentor might require you to step outside of your comfort zone — but you’ll quickly realize touching another’s life on such a positive level is one of the most surprising ways to discover joy and purpose. Make a New Year’s resolution to volunteer as a mentor for the Give Something Back Foundation. There’s no better way to start 2017!

For more information visit our mentor page