In 2014, MENTOR released a report titled The Mentoring Effect which gave voice to young people’s insights about the role mentoring plays in their lives. The report confirmed that mentoring has a significant impact that results in positive outcomes for young people involved. Mentoring connects them to networks of support and resources that allow them to reach for social and economic opportunity and succeed.
Unfortunately, one in three young people will grow up without a mentor. To close this gap, it will take everyone from parents, students and teachers to counselors, coaches and family friends – anyone who has a touch point in a young person’s life.
Community engagement is an undeniably critical part of ensuring that mentoring isn’t left to chance. Public officials can support policies that promote mentoring as part of comprehensive educational and youth development initiatives. Teachers, counselors and school administrators can ensure mentoring is integrated into holistic student supports. Business leaders can encourage employee engagement in youth mentoring by partnering with a nonprofit program and offering time to mentor during business hours.
How can you get involved? Start by learning more about community-wide engagement in youth mentoring. Check out each section for details about cross-sector approaches. Then, check to see if there is a Mentoring Partnership in your area, and reach out to them for resources and consultation on community engagement. If there is not a Mentoring Partnership in your state, contact MENTOR directly for consultation.
The Mentoring Effect survey found that students who were at-risk for not graduating but who had a mentor were 36% more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college than those who did not have a mentor, and 55% more likely to be enrolled in college. For example, one survey respondent said, “My mentor attended the college I’m at now, and she took me out and informed me of how to get into college. She was always there to support me.”
Schools and school districts across the country are tapping into the mentoring effect by partnering with local nonprofit experts to systematically match students to mentors to provide extra adult support and guidance to keep them on the path to graduation. Having a mentor provides a holistic approach to all other academic interventions aimed helping a student achieve. For example, the New York City Interagency Task Force on Truancy established the NYC Success Mentor Corps as an integral tactic in the effort to assist students who were chronically absent by identifying the root cause of their absenteeism and providing them with a support system for regular attendance.
Learn more about what the research tells us about mentoring’s impact on academics.
In “Mentoring: at the crossroads of education, business and community,” MENTOR found that top US businesses are collaborating with the public and nonprofit sectors to connect youth in their communities to transformative mentoring relationships while also seeing the value returned in the form of employee satisfaction, growth and productivity. Private sector engagement is most successful when an initiative follows best practices, including:
The Mentoring Effect survey found that young people who were at-risk for not graduating high school but who had a mentor were 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities and 78% more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. Not only do the youth who are involved in extracurricular activities and volunteer work benefit, but so do their families, friends, and neighbors. Their involvement in positive activities helps them cultivate skills, values and meaningful relationships that promote healthy development.
At the same time, youth with mentors are more likely to resist negative influences. Mentoring is fifth in a list of 31 strategies for its rate of success in preventing criminal violent behavior. The young adults surveyed for The Mentoring Effect articulate the impact of mentoring relationships best in their own words:
Public servants with local, state and federal governments play a critical role in ensuring that mentoring is leveraged as a key component of any holistic approach to youth development and success. Funding for mentoring is vital to ensuring programs have the staff and resources necessary to run safe and effective operations. Equally important are policies that promote and support expanding and integrating quality program efforts. And public agencies can also enact personnel policies that allow employees time off to mentor.
At the local level, Mayors are on the frontlines of addressing many of our nation’s most pressing challenges, from poverty and hunger, to high school graduation rates and job growth. Their innovative policies often flow up to influence state and national efforts. In cities and towns across the country, Mayors are collaborating with our affiliate Mentoring Partnerships, cross-sector leaders and mentoring programs to scale quality mentoring initiatives, and mobilize their communities to better equip their young people to succeed. Learn more about Mayors for Mentoring here.
At the state level, elected officials and public servants have championed a variety of efforts to support mentoring from gubernatorial proclamations for National Mentoring Month, to inventive ways of funding quality programs. In Washington and Indiana, our affiliate Mentoring Partnerships mobilized state leaders to start programs allowing residents to purchase license plates that support mentoring with a portion of the proceeds benefiting mentoring programs. Our affiliate Mentoring Partnership in Massachusetts led efforts to establish and maintain a state budget line item in Massachusetts that provides funding to mentoring programs.
At the federal level, National service members with AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps serve in two ways: as mentors and by building the capacity of mentoring organizations through mentor recruitment and management, fundraising, and program administration. Each year, more than one million children and youth from disadvantaged circumstances are mentored through federally supported programs.
Since 2008, the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has invested more than $600 million in youth mentoring grants and research. In 2015, the agency and MENTOR launched a joint initiative, the National Mentoring Resource Center, an effort to lead mentoring programs to increase incorporation of evidence-based practices.
In addition to these federal investments in quality youth mentoring, there is much more that the federal government can do to more fully integrate mentoring into solutions designed to meet our nation’s most pressing challenges. Visit MENTOR’s Advocacy pages for more information on specific legislation you can support.