Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™

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Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™

Fourth Edition

MENTOR’s cornerstone publication, the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, details research-informed and practitioner-approved Standards for creating and sustaining quality youth mentoring programs and consequently, impactful mentoring relationships. The Fourth Edition, released in September 2015, reflects the most up-to-date research, practice, and thinking in the mentoring field.

The six evidence-based Standards are intended to be applicable across almost every type of youth mentoring program. Each Standard includes Benchmarks to ensure the safety and effectiveness of mentoring relationships, as well as Enhancements that may be promising, innovative and useful for programs. Additionally, a Program Planning and Management section offers recommendations for designing, building, and strengthening mentoring programs and services.

In addition to the substantive content updates, this edition of the Elements has a vibrant new design full of color and images of mentors and mentees provided by our affiliate Mentoring Partnerships. It offers a sneak peek of exciting branding updates MENTOR is making in the coming months.

Download a copy of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, Fourth Edition and additional supplemental documents.

Download Elements

Download Frequently Asked Questions

Download Checklist


Recruitment focuses on recruiting appropriate mentors and mentees, by realistically describing the program’s objectives and expected outcomes. Recruitment strategies should build positive attitudes and emotions about mentoring, and target mentors and mentees whose skills, backgrounds, and needs best match the goals and structure of the program.


Screening focuses on screening prospective mentors to determine whether they have the time, commitment, and personal qualities to be a safe and effective mentor; and screening prospective mentees to determine if they have the time, commitment, and desire to be effectively mentored. Screening emphasizes keeping participants, especially young people, safe in mentoring relationships.


Training is essential to the success of a mentoring program. Training focuses on ensuring that prospective mentors, mentees, and their parents or guardians have the basic knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to build a safe and effective relationship. Training of mentors, particularly, has documented implications for the length of match relationship as well as both parties’ perceptions of the quality of the relationship.


Matching helps create appropriate mentoring relationships by using strategies most likely to increase the odds that the relationship will be safe and effective. Matching should consider individual characteristics about the mentor and mentee in order to foster an enduring relationship. Initiating is the step that formally establishes the mentoring relationship.


Monitoring and support is critical to mentoring not only to create satisfying and successful relationships, but also to adjust to changing needs of the mentee and mentor, and to ensure safety. Support ensures ongoing advice, problem-solving, training, and access to resources for the duration of a mentoring relationship.


Bringing a mentoring relationship to closure in a way that affirms the contributions of both the mentor and the mentee is essential to ensuring the relationship ends with positive consequences for the mentee. Closure is a normal stage in a mentoring relationship and mentors and mentees should be able to prepare for closure and assess their experience with the relationship.


How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program Using the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring is a planning toolkit with tools, templates and advice for implementing and adhering to the Standards as defined in the Second Edition of the Elements. While this toolkit has not been updated to fully support the Fourth Edition of the Elements, it is still a valuable resource for mentoring programs.

Whether you are new to mentoring or a seasoned veteran, this toolkit will save you time and effort because it contains materials and information you need to start or maintain a quality mentoring program.

We hope you will use the toolkit with great success. For further assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your local Mentoring Partnership to find the latest resources for the mentoring field.

Download the full toolkit in English or Spanish

Full English Toolkit

Full Spanish Toolkit

Additional Tools

*Tools for Designing and Planning: English | Spanish

*Tools to Manage a Program for Success: English | Spanish

*Tools to Structure Effective Program Operations: English | Spanish

*Tools to Establish Evaluation Criteria and Methods: English | Spanish

*These files are downloadable .zip files

Webinar: Introduction to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, Fourth Edition

To coincide with the release, MENTOR offered a comprehensive overview of the new edition via webinar. You will hear explanations of new content, review updated Benchmarks and Enhancements, and receive recommendations for implementing these best practices in a variety of program contexts.

Full Recorded Presentation

Presentation Slides PDF


MENTOR is grateful to the hundreds of mentoring practitioners and researchers who so generously contributed their time and good counsel to the development of the Fourth Edition of Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™. It is their work, along with their dedication to sharing their best practices and research, which made this edition possible. And, it is their work which continues to propel mentoring to ever-higher levels of performance.  In addition, the Fourth Edition was generously supported by the MetLife Foundation and the Open Society Foundations.

Every kid should have someone to turn to. Join the movement, Mentor In Real Life!