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Celebrating the Virtues of Disability Mentoring

If you ask a successful professional how they got where they are today, they'll probably tell you about some of their mentors — the people who helped them along their career journey through support, counsel and constructive example. Every day, countless youth, workers and mentors reap the benefits of mentoring relationships. So do smart business owners who recognize how mentoring can boost the retention, job performance and career advancement of their employees.

Every January the virtues of mentorship take center stage during National Mentoring Month, which serves as a fitting time for businesses of all sizes to consider how they can provide mentoring opportunities to youth and young professionals in their communities. Integral to these efforts is a focus on diversity and inclusion, since mentoring can be especially beneficial in supporting the employment and advancement of people with disabilities.

This month, and all year long, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and its partners are working to shine a light on the value of mentoring, offering a variety of helpful tools and resources. One is the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion’s Workplace Mentoring Primer, which educates employers and employees on ways to establish and implement formal mentoring relationships and programs.

In addition, ODEP Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Sheehy has penned a blog post in honor of National Mentoring Month, sharing her own personal mentorship experiences and the key role mentors can play in one's life and career, especially for those with disabilities.

Finally, just in time for national "I Am a Mentor Day," the ODEP-funded Campaign for Disability Employment will co-sponsor a Twitter chat with the American Association of People with Disabilities on Thursday, January 12, 2017 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET. Titled "#DisabilityMentors: Supporting the Career Success of Young People with Disabilities," the chat will feature special guest Derek Shields, co-chair of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition. You can join this important Twitter conversation by using the hashtag #DisabilityMentors.

All of these events and resources remind us that mentoring is a proven way for employers to help others while also helping their company. By facilitating mentoring opportunities for youth with disabilities, those benefits are heightened even further.

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