Employees at CLS Investments, LLC and its parent company, NorthStar Financial Services Group, LLC, have a longstanding commitment to community involvement.

Recently, former Nebraska Cornhuskers football coach and U.S. Congressman (R-NE3, 2001-2006) Tom Osborne presented to NorthStar employees about how to get involved with TeamMates Mentoring, a program he and his wife Nancy founded in 1991. The basic goal of TeamMates is to see youth reach their full potential by graduating from high school, pursuing post-secondary education, and growing into caring, confident adults. To achieve this, youth meet one hour per week with an adult mentor, who gives the youth a sense of hope, purpose, and vision. Mentors are matched to their mentees – who can begin the program in 3rd grade – based on strengths and shared interests. Once matched, mentors and mentees maintain their relationship through high school graduation.

Since Mr. Osborne’s visit, six NorthStar employees have become involved with TeamMates, including four from CLS: National Director of Sales Bill Wostoupal, Director of Inside Sales Dawn Batho, Inside Sales Consultant Michele Prell, and Inside Sales Consultant Tami Davis.

Dawn has been matched with an energetic 3rd grader who loves to laugh. They do a variety of activities together, including playing board games and hangman, and doing art projects. Most importantly, however, they talk – about the mentee’s week, school, her friends, and her family. In regard to her experience so far, Dawn said,

“The most rewarding thing to me is the fact that she asks me to come back and see her every day. That shows me that she values our time together. I just started with her at the beginning of the year and we are still learning a lot about each other, but I always let her do it on her terms. I don’t probe her for information about how her family life is, etc. She shares things as we talk. It’s up to me to pick up on those things and be very supportive of her.”

The National Mentoring Partnership has identified a “mentoring gap” and has issued a nationwide call to action. The partnership estimates 15 million youth are currently in need of a mentor. To help bridge the gap, Bill meets regularly with a 4th grader. Bill commented,

“I’ve learned a lot by being a mentor, if only for a few months. Things such as discussing options and not telling him what to do are important. Instead, I focus on being a good listener with no judgment and being positive in our interaction.”

The TeamMates Mentoring Program began with 22 football players who met with middle school students in Lincoln, NE, public schools. The program now provides mentors for over 5,600 youth across Nebraska, Iowa, and California, and the organization’s goal is to serve 10,000 youth and be nationally recognized as the leading school-based mentoring program by 2015.

Although the program was established to help youth succeed, many mentors are finding that they are getting as much out of the relationship as the mentee.

“I got into this program to help a child, but in reality she is helping me too,” Dawn said. “I get to take the time to play without thinking about my next meeting or conference call. It’s all about the two of us just having fun together. It also helps me to see how important that is for my own kids. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the homework and after-school activities. This experience has shown me that we need to take a step back and just play and have fun with our children.”

Read more about the TeamMates Mentoring Program at http://teammates.org/.