LGBTQ+ Center Recipient of Grant for QUEST Mentorship Program

The Akron Community Foundation has awarded the QUEST Mentorship Program, an initiative within the LGBTQ+ Center, a $2,000 micro-grant for the coming year.

QUEST Mentorship provides 1:1 mentor/mentee relationships for students to focus on career guidance and general support. They also connect as a larger group during monthly meetups and assist in building community while at the same time, develop professionally.

LGBTQ+ Center Director Ken Ditlevson believes the value of community made a big impression on the Akron Community Foundation.

“They look for programs that impact our greater community, [and] I believe they value our program because it incorporates community volunteers to serve as mentors to students,” he said. “Mentors get to share their expertise that help guide students in their career and personal journey.”

The outreach program contributes to helping students gain valuable life skills. Some of them include guidance in identifying career fields that would be a good fit, resumes created and reviewed, setting up a LinkedIn account, practicing job interview sessions, meeting new friends, having additional support, and even shadowing in a career.

“This is truly one of my most favorite programs that I have been part of over my 20 years working in social service and helping organizations,” said Ditlevson. “Since we linked with Career Exploration and Development this year, the program has gotten even stronger. It matches two big important needs with students needing career guidance/emotional support as well as helping community members in finding meaningful ways to give back to the community.”

According to Ditlevson, the money comes at the perfect time considering the pandemic impacted their work, forcing the group to pivot and do things a bit differently than usual.

“We typically utilize funds for monthly programming, to purchase food/snacks for the students and mentors, plus an annual launch/training session, and end of year dinner,” he said. “Since COVID, we have been focusing our grant funds on supplies for students to help them in launching their careers and work experience.”

Ditlevson added that over the years, the Quest Mentorship has paid big dividends, pointing to an experience that proves this is a program that yields results.

“My husband was a mentor to a student that wanted to work in special education, and eventually the student mentee went in to shadow his mentor at his school with special needs children,” he said. “After his time shadowing and seeing a typical day, he decided it was NOT the field for him; it might not seem like a success, but it truly was because he figured this out before graduating and going into the workforce.”

For more on the LGBTQ+ Center, please visit

For more on the LGBTQ+ QUEST Mentorship Program, please visit

POSTED: Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 12:56pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 3:18pm
Matt Lupica