NAFSN Mentor Program (NMP)

A Free Mentoring Program for Qualified Organizations

Now Seeking Pilot Projects

Apply Here

Scope and Mission

The NAFSN Mentor Program (NMP) is a program of the North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN) in cooperation with the Thomas A. Lyson Center for Civic Agriculture and Food Systems. NMP is designed to provide mentoring and technical assistance to NAFSN members and member organizations working on local/regional food systems issues, including negotiating common challenges such as demonstrating need in a grant proposal, designing an effective program or policy, demonstrating the effectiveness of an existing program, and hiring appropriate staff members. In providing this service NAFSN will help our new and limited resource members avoid typical resource-wasting pitfalls of "re-inventing the wheel," ineffective policies or program planning, unfunded grant proposals, unshared success stories, etc. Depending on needs and unique circumstances, NMP will refer organizations to more appropriate existing services or consultants.

NMP mentors will be experienced individuals (e.g., retired or semiretired faculty, researchers, scholars, and staff members from organizations and institutions of higher education around North America who volunteer to provide short term (10 hours maximum) consulting and technical assistance assignments at no charge to organizations and agencies that lack in-house capability and funding to hire qualified consultants. Examples of the types of technical assistance that could be provided if qualified volunteers were available include:

  • Conceptualizing a program
  • Conducting needs analysis
  • Conducting market research
  • Estimating projections
  • Designing a survey
  • Planning a focus group
  • Providing feedback on or editing a proposal
  • Designing a project evaluation protocol or impact analysis
  • Writing a position description
  • Conducting a statistical analysis
  • Planning a promotional campaign
  • Assisting with grant proposal writing
  • Assisting in writing a case study

Organizations or agencies seeking a NMP mentor submit an application for assistance. Applications will be reviewed for appropriateness by a NAFSN committee. If the request is deemed suitable for the program and a NMP volunteer with appropriate expertise and interest is available, the NMP volunteer will be matched with the applicant and provide up to 10 hours of assistance by phone, e-mail or Skype. The details of the assistance and the hours would be negotiated between the applicant and the NMP volunteer. If a fledgling organization needs more general guidance, the hours can be spread out over a longer period of time.

General Guidelines for NMP Services

NMP mentors can be expected to:

  • Provide expert advice regarding proposals, plans, programs, evaluations, etc. (but are not unpaid staff members).
  • Share what scientific and experiential knowledge that they possess (but probably not to research particular topics unless agreed upon up front).
  • Work on schedules with reasonable lead-times of 1 or 2 weeks (or as negotiated)
  • Maintain confidentiality.

Joining the NMP Volunteer Roster

Volunteers will complete a survey online (contact info, topical interest, services willing to provide, hours available, etc.) and sign an ethics statement.

Apply Here