Why Real Mentors?


The REAL Mentors Program for boys was initiated in May of 2011 at Tahanto Regional Middle/High School in Boylston, Massachusetts. School Psychologist Jake Milano designed the program working in coordination with Mike Sanford of Fathering Fathers and staff from Boys To Men New England.

Over his 25 years at Tahanto where he counseled students of all ages, he came to the realization, for many of the boys he worked with something was missing. While young men who struggled academically, socially or emotionally benefited from the listening, caring and direction Milano provided, they needed something more.

However, it wasn’t traditional school counseling or intensive therapy that would meet that need but rather the presence of a significant male role model at a time in their lives when they were struggling to separate from their parents and establish their own identity. This significant male role model could be an uncle, coach, teacher or any male willing to make a meaningful connection with that young man.

Beginning September of 2020, The REAL Mentors Program will expand to also serve girls in middle school. The program will provide young women, as they transition into adulthood, a venue for open, honest, and frank discussions and will model the boy’s program. An adult woman will lead the program with the support of other women mentors from the local community.

We chose to refer to the men and women who volunteer in our program as “REAL Mentors”. REAL is an acronym that stands for the core values we hold and demonstrate through our program.

Respect and Responsibility




When we come together in our groups and honor these values, we are all better able to learn from one another. The mentors and mentees all benefit greatly as they join together in group discussions, fun games, and conversations over tasty snacks. All are elements of the REAL Mentors meetings. All involve the opportunity to practice, experience, and internalize our REAL core values.

Fathering Fathers, Inc. (FFI) is committed to sharing the experience and success of this program with other school systems in Metro West and Central Massachusetts. If you are interested in starting a REAL Mentors Program at your school, please contact Jake Milano or Mike Sanford (click here).

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