The Mentoring Network

The Mentoring Network, Inc. serves five rural school districts (Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, Homedale, Vallivue) offering school-based mentoring to at-risk students, grades 1st-8th.

The goals of the mentoring program are to improve at-risk students' attendance, grades, and behaviors through friendship building with responsible, caring adults (18yrs. and older) who meet with their student one hour, once a week, on the school grounds, during the school year.

Invest in a Child;
Invest in Community
Board Emeritus

Mary Ensley
Dir. Student Advocacy, Retired
Nampa School District

Darin Eisenbarth
Company President, Zamzows

Dr. B. Edgar Johnson
Church Administrator, Retired

Chuck Randolph
School District Admin, Retired

Melinda Smyser
Idaho State Senator, Retired

Julie Van Matre
Parma School District, Retired


Since 1999, The Mentoring Network, Inc. (formerly the West Canyon Mentoring Project) has offered school-based mentoring to rural, school referred, at-risk students, grades 1-8 and continuing through high school with MN students that choose to.  The MN currently serves five school districts; Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, Homedale, and Vallivue.

The Mission of The Mentoring Network, Inc. is to provide school-based, direct-to-youth mentoring that will improve life outcomes for vulnerable and disengaged children by developing resilience skills, supporting the development of personal strengths, and increasing self-sufficiency. 

The Mentoring Network incorporates programming based on the principle that all young people have a need for caring people and challenging possibilities in their lives.  Reflection, youth voice, and positive relationships with adults are experiences considered to be important factors in producing effective student learning.  The MN believes that resilience is not a genetic trait that only a few “superkids” possess. Rather, when provided with a caring environment, high expectations and meaningful opportunities, youth have an inborn capacity for self-righting and for transformation. 

The goals of the mentoring program are to improve at-risk students' attendance, state testing scores, behaviors and self-worth through friendship building with caring adults who meet with their student one hour, once a week, on the school grounds, during the school year.

Once a mentor is available referred students are invited to participate in the mentoring program. Parents and school officials fill out mentor request forms, parent permissions, information sharing forms, confidentiality forms, and academic information forms.

Interested mentors go through a process completing an application form, along with background checks, written referrals, interview and training.

The project is supported by a full-time Executive Director and a part-time Administrative Assistant who work closely with each individual school counselor, mentors, students, parents, and communities.


The program was created through the collaboration of four individuals from four separate school districts and was field tested for six years as The West Canyon Mentoring Project. Funding was provided by a 3 year State Dept. of Educ. grant and a 3 year Federal (JUMP) grant through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  

Prior to funding coming to an end in September 2005, a 501c3 was formed, The Mentoring Network, Inc. to continue the incredible need in rural school districts for one-on-one school-based mentoring services.

Executive Director, Donna Shines

Donna Shines came to the program in 2004 as the project director for the West Canyon Mentoring Project in its final year on a federal JUMP (juvenile mentoring program) grant. At the completion of the grant, in the fall of 2005, she became the executive director for the newly formed non-profit, The Mentoring Network, Inc., replacing the previous name.

After finishing high school in Caldwell, Donna attended college at Boise State University, Utah State University, University of Hawaii at Hilo graduating from Boise State with a degree in physical education (K-12). Donna later earned an endorsement in Special Education K-12.

Work experience includes the Boise Family YMCA in the areas of aquatics and fitness/wellness programming for 10 ½ years followed by a management position at Court Sports Fitness Center in Caldwell for 3 years. Donna then turned her attention to special education, teaching at Caldwell High School for 12 years.

Donna's unique background involves working in the fields of aquatics and fitness, management, education, and volunteering for numerous community organizations along the way (Caldwell Rotary Club, Parma Lions Club, Special Olympics Idaho, Caldwell YMCA, and Caldwell Mayor’s Committee on Youth). She brings boundless energy and enthusiasm to the unique needs of this growing program.

Board of Directors

The Board meets monthly and assists with program planning and resource development. It participates in activities that encourage the success of mentors in developing positive relationships with one another and with their mentees. Many of our Board members are, themselves, mentors to youth through this Program.

Mentor Tools Counselor Tools Service Projects


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