Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Amy Payne
Local resident Brittany Rayburn is the new executive director of Youth Mentoring Initiative (YMI). Since 2008, the organization has partnered with the Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation to provide a mentoring program that benefits intermediate through high school students. Although this is a new position to Rayburn, she has a 10-year history of serving the area.
Rayburn has been involved with the well-known Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and an affiliate organization, Hamilton County Community Foundation. At CICF, she served as community investment officer. During the past three years, she was director of development at Hamilton County Community Foundation. She accepted the role of YMI executive director this spring.
“I had been aware about YMI through my work at CICF and Hamilton County Community Foundation,” Rayburn says. “I was impressed by the organization and when I saw the executive director position pop up, my interest was piqued. I’ve always been interested in serving youth and mental health issues. I also had an interest in someday leading an organization.
“My role as executive director will be both internal and external,” she adds. “I will oversee operations, but I will also be involved in fundraisers, stake holder engagement and raising awareness of the organization. Plus, I will meet with donors and community partners.”
YMI was created to offer a mentoring program to students by training and organizing community volunteers. The goal of the organization is to support to Hamilton Southeastern School Corporation by providing highly trained mentors that reflect integrity, encouragement and empathy. YMI invests in local youth by making a positive impact on their lives.
“We currently work with nine school buildings at the intermediate through high school level. In 2020 we matched 342 students with 269 mentors,” she says. “We always need mentors, especially males with a diverse background, but we welcome anyone who has the heart to mentor. All mentors go through background checks and extensive training.”
Students who would benefit from having a mentor are recommended to YMI for several reasons. Some need emotional support if they are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression. At times school personnel refer students for guidance with peer interaction, behavior, attendance or because of a need for an addition adult in their life.
“During the 2021-22 school year, as we emerge from this pandemic, many kids will need a mentor- more so than ever,” Rayburn says. “Our world was turned topsy-turvy, and students have to re-engage back into school. YMI will be critical in supplying mental health needs.
“I am excited to be serving as executive director. YMI benefits from a strong board of directors and staff as well as dedicated volunteers. We care about every student that needs a mentor. If people have the time, I hope they volunteer. If they don’t have the time, we can benefit from financial contributions. I am hoping to engage more community partners and having their employees become mentors. It’s a wonderful way to give back.”
For information on becoming a mentor or to donate, visit YMIOnline.org. You can contact YMI by phone at 317-350-6045 or email email@example.com.