Become a Volunteer Mediator

"Becoming a mediator has been a life changing process" - Lili, Volunteer Mediator, Neighborhood Mediation Program.

RNW's volunteer mediators work directly with people in disputes; easing tensions, establishing trust, helping the parties find solutions. With professional training and ongoing staff mentoring and support, volunteers gain the skills and confidence to mediate the most challenging and complex cases. Being a volunteer mediator with RNW is a unique way to give back to the community while gaining valuable personal skills.  

Getting Involved

All volunteers complete 34 hours of professional mediation training, followed by a one-year, 120-hour mentor program, which includes a weekly commitment of a three hour shift. This allows RNW to maintain its high standards of service and commitment to improving Portland's neighborhoods, while providing a valuable skill-building experience for the volunteer.

The Process

New volunteers are accepted into the program once a year and kick off their year-long service with a basic mediation training, generally held at the beginning of the year. Prospective volunteers submit an application and go through a selection process, which may include a brief in-person interview. We let all applicants know whether or not they’ve been accepted into the program before the training begins.  2015 Volunteer Mediator Application here

Volunteer Program FAQ

What is the Program Structure? If selected as a volunteer, you would complete the following:

  • 34 hours of professional mediation training which covers the various dimensions of mediation work, including: conflict theory, mediation stages, empathic listening, facilitating negotiations, cross-cultural conflict management and more! This cost for this training for paid participants (non-volunteers) is $1,000. The training fee is waived for all volunteers who complete the 120 hours of volunteer service and training. An unfulfilled commitment results in the collection of $1,000 for the cost of the training.  The 34 hour training will take place at or near our office in NE Portland.

  • A one-year, 120-hour mediation training program, in which each volunteer commits to participate in a volunteer “shift” of three hours per week.  The value of this yearlong training and mentorship is $2,200 per person, which is waived for the volunteers.  This allows RNW to maintain its high standards of service and commitment to improving Portland's neighborhoods, while providing a valuable skill-building experience and quality mentorship for the volunteer.  The scheduled volunteer shifts for 2014 will be on Thursdays, from either 3:30pm to 6:30pm, or from 5pm to 8pm.  These are the only times offered; if these times will not work for your schedule, please consider applying at a future time.  The volunteer shifts take place at the RNW office, 1847 NE 44th Ave., Ste. 300
  • Volunteers additionally have the opportunity to:
    • Be a mediator at “table mediations” through our Neighborhood Mediation Program after successful completion of new mediator criteria.
    • Participate in a variety of regular trainings, gatherings, and outreach events.
    • Apply to receive additional training to mediate in other RNW programs, including Restorative Justice and Group Facilitation.

What happens during a Volunteer “Shift”? The volunteer shift is the core of our unique year-long training program. Each “shift” has five or six volunteers and one staff mentor, who learn together and support each other through the year of skill development. The typical shift includes:

  • 90 minutes of a combination of group learning, discussion, and practice activities. The topic areas of the learning changes as volunteers progress through the year. Some of these include case development, empathic listening, mediation structure and techniques, conflict resolution theory, working with anger, balancing power, cultural competency, and more.
  • 90 minutes of working directly with neighbors in disputes: easing tensions, establishing trust, helping the parties consider and prepare for mediation. This case development work is done by telephone in our volunteer room, with the active coaching and feedback by the shift mentor.

What is RNW looking for in their selection process?  In general, RNW desires to have volunteers with a variety of backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives. We additionally look for what skills or resources people can bring to the organization and a sincere commitment in serving this community for years to come. RNW does not necessarily look for people with a lot of mediation training or experience, because that’s what we do. We provide the training and mentoring, you provide the energy and heart.

What if I am not available for some of the training or can’t commit to a volunteer shift? While RNW understands that people lead busy lives, it is a unique and selective opportunity to become one of our volunteer mediators. We will only accept those volunteers that are available and can make a commitment to attend the full training and consistently fulfill their volunteer shifts.

Do I need to take the training if I have already had basic or advanced mediation training? Yes. Having all of our volunteers trained in the same manner provides us with an assurance of the quality of the training received and provides the bonding for peer support through the learning process.

What chances do I have for getting selected as a volunteer mediator?  We consistently receive far more applications than we have positions available. For example, this year we had over 80 applications, and have only 11 slots available.  We currently use a randomn, lottery-style method to select a batch of volunteers to interview.  From the people we interview, we select volunteers to participate in the program using a wide range of criteria.