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Paul Hogan saw a need to give young people structure, direction and hope, so he left for local nonprofit SetPath.

COURTESY PHOTO: PAUL HOGAN - Former Jesuit High School Principal Paul Hogan stepped down in January 2022 to work for SetPath, a local nonprofit mentorship program for young adults.Paul Hogan left his position as Jesuit High School principal in January to join SetPath, a Portland-based nonprofit dedicated to help young adults figure out their lives.

As an educator and a parent, Hogan saw an urgent need to serve young adults — so urgent he stepped down during the school year, he said. Many of the young people Hogan knew were struggling with mental health issues, job uncertainties or anxiety about the state of the world.

So, Hogan joined Daniel Harkavy, chief executive officer of Building Champions — a coaching firm for corporate leaders — on Harkavy's new project: SetPath, a similar coaching tool for young adults.

"Every parent, every educator, knew that there was really a massive crisis in mental health … especially young people once they left the world of high school and other programs," Hogan said.

SetPath, which is still in its early stages, offers free life planning and mentorship for young people between ages 18 and 28. The organization employs about five people who work in various areas, including two full-time mentors.

These "guides" are trained mentors who meet with young adults once a week to talk through a life plan, which they can make with SetPath's website — soon, hopefully, an app. SetPath currently has a separate website for receiving donations.COURTESY PHOTO: PAUL HOGAN - Kendra Vollstedt (second from right) works as a guide for SetPath, a local nonprofit mentorship program for young adults. Vollstedt poses with three of her mentees, or 'planners.'

The nonprofit's two guides currently work with about 50 young people.

"They're just there to help the young adult to make sure that they're on track and that they're achieving their goals and give them a sense of control and hope and purpose moving forward," Hogan said.

Hogan is currently the "chief hope officer" at SetPath. He said part of his role is to remind people "there are ways that you can grab control of your life. And sometimes it's just to have one person to talk to that's not your mom or dad, that's not your boss, but somebody who cares about you and is invested in your life."

He also has a blog, where he shares stories related to SetPath.

The organization is mostly based in Portland, but everything's done online, so mentors and young people can be located anywhere.

Though he isn't one of the dedicated guides, Hogan just finished up mentoring a 26-year-old who's living in New Jersey, he said. After the 12-week mentorship program, Hogan's mentee — called a "planner" by SetPath — expressed interest in becoming a guide himself.COURTESY PHOTO: SETPATH - Daniel Harkavy, CEO of Building Champions, founded local mentorship nonprofit SetPath.

"We haven't had a single planner who has said this is not worth it," Hogan said. "They all would always say that they'd recommend it to their friends."

Though SetPath is new — it only received its nonprofit certification last July — the team is already working on expanding.

The goal for SetPath is to continue the life planning for individuals, Hogan said, while soon creating a learning management system (LMS) and hosting trainings for other organizations.

The nonprofit has discussed with working with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Portland, George Fox University and D.C. Central Kitchen.

SetPath's model is flexible, Hogan said, so it works well in many contexts and its model will work as the organization grows.

Hogan's excited to see SetPath evolve, he said, because the need for its services is so urgent.

"The levels of anxiety, depression in this generation have grown dramatically, and they were pretty high before," he said. "We're not therapeutic by any means, but we're offering hope and structure and direction."

There aren't a lot of programs for 18- to 28-year-olds around, Hogan said. In fact, a lot of programs cut off at 18. There are mentoring programs around, too, but SetPath's combination of mentoring, structure and consistency is powerful, Hogan said.

"It's not rocket science," he said. "You put together a plan for your life and we'll talk about it. I'll ask you questions, provide resources and hold you accountable."

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said SetPath was already working with various other organizations, but there have been no formal agreements. This story has been corrected.

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