Next Step is all about relationships, so it’s no surprise that mentorship is a huge part of our programs. Our mission is to empower you to create the future you envision for yourself, and mentoring helps you get there. Next Step mentors provide support and guidance as you take steps to move toward becoming your best self.

Next Step mentorship opportunities focus on academics, career development and life skills. Participants can achieve small victories, major milestones, and everything in between—and we celebrate them all with you! We currently have four mentorship programs:

  • Academic Coaching
  • Program Leadership
  • Community Advocacy
  • Internships

Academic Coaching

Managing your education along with the challenges of a serious illness can take a serious toll. Finding an academic coach can be a turning point, especially if you have unique learning needs or have missed a significant number of school days. Next Step’s STRIVE program provides individualized academic coaching for teens living with sickle cell disease. Weekly programs in Cambridge and monthly programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City offer one-on-one mentorship in a supportive setting with other teens and coaches.

Program Leadership

Our programs only work if the young people who participate in them have been truly engaged in shaping them. Program Leaders help create every level of the Next Step experience, while building the leadership skills and self-confidence that will allow you to rise to any new challenge. As a Next Step Program Leader, you can:

  • Join a youth task force to plan the curriculum and organize the schedule for a one-day or multi-day program
  • Co-lead a workshop with an expert on a topic of special interest
  • Facilitate a group activity that brings the “summer camp” energy to a Campference, like emceeing Stage Night or leading a community-building game

Program Leaders work closely with Next Step staff, who will provide training and guidance as you take on on more responsibility, follow your passions, and discover your strengths.

Community Advocacy

Next Step Ambassadors are trained public speakers who present to audiences big and small. You might advocate on behalf of your disease community, raise awareness about issues and challenges, or simply tell your story to educate and inspire. Next Step staff and volunteers will help you develop and edit your narrative, as well as train you in public speaking techniques such as diction, pace and connecting with the audience. Whether you’re talking to researchers at a pharmaceutical company, students at a local junior high school, or neighbors at a walk-a-thon, Next Step Ambassadors gain the confidence and skills to bring your personal experience to center stage, hold the spotlight, and know you belong there.


Next Step offers a limited number of internships to provide on-the-job experience at Next Step Central or a partner company. Recent internships have offered opportunities in the areas of social media, donor research, and program development. Participants apply to the program and are coached by professional members of the Next Step community. These internships are highly personalized and are offered based on availability and need.

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