The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring

New Report: The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring

The Mentoring Effect is a compelling new report informed by the first-ever nationally representative survey of young people on the topic of both informal and formal mentoring, as well as a literature and landscape review and insights from a variety of key leaders in business, philanthropy, government, and education. The report was commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership with support from AT&T, and written by Civic Enterprises in partnership with Hart Research.

The findings of this report are consistent with a powerful mentoring effect as demonstrated by the life experiences of the young people surveyed and mentoring’s link to improved academic, social and economic prospects. This mentoring effect is growing and, if harnessed, it has the potential to help meet a range of national challenges and strengthen our communities and economy.

To bring this impact to life MENTOR is sharing stories about how the mentoring effect is strengthening communities on The Mentoring Effect blog.

The survey found that 9.4 million at-risk young adults had been matched in mentoring relationships through mentoring programs while they are growing up. In the early 1990s an estimated 300,000 at-risk young people had a structured mentoring relationship. Another 10.5 million at-risk young adults had informal mentoring relationships with teachers, coaches, extended family members or neighbors while they were growing up.

Despite this positive trend, one in three young people surveyed did not have a mentor while they were growing up.

Applying their experiences to the U.S. Census demographics for 8-18 year olds, it is projected that 16 million young people, including 9 million at-risk young people, will reach adulthood without connecting with a mentor of any kind.

The survey also showed that with each additional risk factor a young person experiences, the less likely he or she is to connect with an informal mentor. This finding suggests a systemic shift to leverage quality mentoring programs to introduce mentors to young people who face a greater number of risk factors is a powerful and necessary strategy.

Mentoring’s Connection to Aspirations and Outcomes

The experiences of the young people surveyed showed significant positive outcomes for those who had a mentor. At-risk young people with mentors were more likely to aspire to attend and to enroll in college. They were more likely to report participating in sports and other extracurricular activities. They also were more likely to report taking leadership roles in school and extracurricular activities and to regularly volunteer in their communities.

Paths Forward

With input from industry stakeholders and thought-leaders, the report outlines opportunities for the public, private and philanthropic sectors to systemically integrate mentoring as a key youth development strategy. The report describes a series of paths forward that would lead to a society where all young people have access to a quality mentoring relationship and the support they need to succeed in school, work and life. The recommendations include strategies to:

  • Utilize mentoring to address national challenges.
  • Ensure that young people most in need have a quality mentoring relationship.
  • Expand local, state and federal public policies that advance quality mentoring.
  • Ensure all structured mentoring is quality mentoring.
  • Support and increase private sector engagement in mentoring.
  • Facilitate connections between research and practice.
  • Explore innovations to close the mentoring gap.