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Having a mentor greatly increases a student's potential for success. In fact, children and youth who have mentors experience improved self-esteem, greater academic achievement, increased motivation in school, and higher quality lifestyle choices. Out-of-School Time (OST) programs present an opportunity to integrate mentoring into students' lives in creative and diverse ways. Your United Way, along with local coalitions, can support OST programs in developing creative, effective mentoring opportunities to engage and empower youth.

spotlight resources

Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring: Fourth Edition (2015)
This comprehensive fourth edition report from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership provides practitioner-approved and research-informed Standards for developing and sustaining high-quality mentoring programs and relationships. It shares six evidence-based Standards that should be incorporated into mentoring practice to ensure the highest degree of success, and under each Standard includes Benchmarks to promote the effectiveness of the mentoring relationships. Also, it offers specific suggestions around creating and strengthening mentoring programs in a Program Planning & Management section.

Youth Mentoring: Best Practices, Quality Standards, and Evidence-Based Model Programs (2013)
This report from the Indiana Youth Institute examines what constitutes effective mentoring programs. It discusses the overall benefits of mentoring, general best practices in mentoring programs, outcome-specific best practices, national standards and guidelines, and evidence-based model programs, and additional evidence-based resources and databases. Although some of the content is specific to Indiana, the majority of the information included in this report is beneficial to mentoring programs across the country.

Community Developmental Assets and Positive Youth Development: The Role of Natural Mentors (2013)
This report examines the importance of community context in a natural mentoring process. The authors explore the relationship between a community’s levels of engagement with and organized opportunities for youth and the development of natural mentoring relationships.  It then describes a variety of youth outcomes that result from having natural mentors, and it concludes that the development of natural mentoring relationships may be made easier by strong involvement and commitment from communities.

MENTOR’s Research In Action Series
The flagship organization in this field, MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership has a longstanding focus on determining actionable ways to close the mentoring gap in America. In an effort to capitalize upon the power of research in creating this change, MENTOR created the Research and Policy Council in 2006. Voices from policy makers, practitioners, and researchers united to determine concrete ways to improve youth mentoring nationally. As a result of this Council’s work, the Research In Action series was developed as a way to integrate current research and discussion around mentoring into relevant, useful resources for mentoring professionals. There are currently 10 issues in this series that cover an array of important topics within mentoring; each issue includes research, tools, and additional resources. Below, the issues are explained and linked.

  • Mentoring: A Key Resource for Promoting Positive Youth Development – This article focuses on aspects of mentoring programs that are most frequently connected to positive and healthy youth development.
  • Effectiveness of Mentoring Program Practices – This issue goes beyond the typical evaluation of program success—through standard assessments of impacts on youth outcomes and mentoring relationship quality— and instead delves into other possible quality indicators such as efficiency and safety.
  • Program Staff in Youth Mentoring Programs: Qualifications, Training, and Retention – This article addresses a gap in research around program staff of mentoring programs. It examines program staff caliber and qualifications, training opportunities, and the retention landscape.
  • Fostering Close and Effective Relationships in Youth Mentoring Programs – This report explores the wide range of factors that impact the quality of mentor relationships.
  • Why Youth Mentoring Relationships End – This issue discusses important factors in mentoring relationships that might foreshadow an early termination of a mentoring relationship. By recognizing and addressing these factors, it is possible that some negative mentoring experiences can be prevented.
  • School-Based Mentoring – This report examines the potential benefits of and restraints on school-based mentoring (SBM), as opposed to community-based mentoring programs. It highlights changes that need to be made for SBM to maximize its potential for impact, and it reveals certain constraints placed on mentoring and methods of overcoming those in order to promote positive youth development.
  • Cross-Age Peer Mentoring – The authors seek to help close the research gap that exists in this fast-moving field of cross-age peer mentoring. They give key definitions to set the foundation for discussion around the existing literature on peer mentoring and on fields that often seem disparate (i.e. peer assistance, peer counseling, and peer education). The intention is that the benefits of and issues within mentor matching, training, and supervision can be examined more in-depth. The article ends with a discussion of important ways to structure these programs.
  • Mentoring Across Generations: Engaging Age 50+ Adults as Mentors – This article discusses approaches to recruit and retain mentors age 50 and over, as well as outcomes for mentors and youth. Additionally, it covers special concerns and considerations.
  • Youth Mentoring: Do Race and Ethnicity Really Matter? – This issue examines research on the significance of matching mentors and mentees based on race and ethnicity and the potential benefit that cross-race versus same-race matches have. Also, it discusses how ethnicity and race impact the relationship between mentors and mentees and how cultural sensitivity can be integrated into mentoring relationships. It concludes with recommendations for taking action, using a case study to illustrate suggestions.
  • Mentoring: A Promising Intervention for Children of Prisoners – Taking a more narrow approach, this article focuses specifically on mentoring as an intervention for children with incarcerated parents. It explores the scope of the issue, the developmental impact having an incarcerated parent has on youth, and the potential role for mentoring in this area.

Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring
Created by the University of Massachusetts Boston and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, this web-based center contains a variety of research on mentoring. The Center is intended to be a sharing platform for ideas and research regarding youth mentoring programs, and it focuses on methods of effective evidence-based practices in the field. It includes links to additional tools and to current projects in the field.



National Mentoring Resource Center
This comprehensive resource contains a plethora of research-to-practice information, mentoring tools, and program and training materials, as well as free training and technical assistance for programs to integrate evidence-based practices. It was created as a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

Integrating Effective Mentoring Strategies and Services Into Youth Services: Webinar Archive (2014)
The Department of Labor's webinar on how to develop and implement effective mentoring opportunities within youth services programs is nationally recognized and available for playback. This 85-minute recording also provides suggestions of resources to take advantage of from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

Mentoring Youth and Young Parents: A Guidebook for Programs Helping Youth and Young Parents Navigate a Pathway to Self-Sufficiency (2013)
This guidebook, developed by Social Policy Research Associates for the U.S. Department of Labor, is full of information that can help a program either establish a new mentoring program entirely or add a mentoring component to a youth services program that already exists. It is essentially divided into three main sections— the first focuses on creating high-quality mentoring services, the second provides examples of initiatives that grantees have taken, and the third provides a wealth of mentoring resources.

Using Mentoring Research Findings to Build Effective Programs (2007)
This resource is a compilation of research studies that the U.S. Department of Education's Mentoring Resource Center summarized in a 2007 web seminar series. This report summarizes the findings of individual mentoring research studies, shares large-scale conclusions that can be drawn, and links readers to useful resources. 

How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program Using the Elements of Effective Practice (2005)
Although a bit more outdated, this toolkit that accompanies the “Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring” Second Edition provides some valuable templates, tools, and advice in regards to designing, planning, managing, structuring, and evaluating mentoring programs.


research on the importance of mentoring

Mentoring: At the Crossroads of Education, Business, and Community (2015)
This report from EY and MENTOR examines the roles of major businesses in collaborating with the non-profit and public sectors to provide youth in their communities with high-quality mentoring opportunities. It explains the potential value businesses and their employees will receive as a result of greater collaboration. To assist with the development of mentoring programs and collaborative relationships, the report offers best practices and then ends with a call to action for businesses to increase support of youth mentoring efforts.

The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring (2014)
This report from MENTOR presents findings from a national survey on the impact of both formal and informal mentoring experiences on young people. It explains the potential for mentoring to strengthen the lives of at-risk children, overcome national challenges, and improve the nation’s economy. It primarily shares young peoples’ thoughts on mentoring in the following three focus areas: 1) mentoring’s connection to outcomes and aspirations, 2) mentors’ value, and 3) mentors’ availability. Then, the report gives recommendations to improve the impact of mentoring by engaging community, state, and national partners.

How Effective Are Mentoring Programs For Youth? A Systematic Assessment of the Evidence (2011)
This study, conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, is a meta-analysis of 73 independent studies of mentoring programs conducted between 1999-2010. It shares conclusions around the effectiveness of mentoring on different aspects of young people's development.

High School Students as Mentors: Findings from the Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring Impact Study (2008)
Drawing on data from a large-scale impact study of Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring program, which was conducted by Public/Private Ventures along with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, this report examines the specific impact of having high-school students as mentors on the level of match success. 

The Critical Ingredient in Afterschool Programs (2005)
This MENTOR report discusses the importance of integrating opportunities for mentorship into all types of afterschool programming. It explains research in the field, reflects on the implications of mentoring in afterschool, and provides recommendations to afterschool programs.



Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Synthesis of Research and Input from the Listening Session Held by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Engagement (2014)
This report provides a unique look into mentoring children of incarcerated parents. It is a summary of the Listening Session on Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents that occurred in September 2013. It shares the stakeholder input and the research from the Listening Session, and it also provides recommendations that can advance the effectiveness and availability of mentoring for children whose parents are incarcerated.

The Role of Risk: Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles (2013)
This extensive report, commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, examines the impact that various types and levels of risk have on youth's relationships with mentors. It draws conclusions around the benefits youth can derive from mentoring relationships based on youth’s risk profiles.

Mentoring Immigrant Youth: A Toolkit for Program Coordinators (2009)
Applicable to a wide range of categories of immigrant youth, this toolkit contains content on best practices, key strategies, and important considerations for mentoring programs with immigrant youth. It includes tools, trainings, and templates to help organizations tailor programs to meet specific needs of immigrant youth and achieve the most programmatic success.


resources related to recruiting & equipping volunteer mentors

The Education Volunteer Call to Action (2011)
This United Way report highlights research in areas of volunteer reading, volunteer tutoring, and volunteer mentoring. It explains key research and characteristics of effective mentoring, in addition to sharing best practices that have come out of United Way mentoring programs.

Ethical Principles for Youth Mentoring Relationships (2011)
MENTOR published this content after it originally appeared in an article based on the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. It sets ethical guidelines for program staff and volunteer mentors to follow in order to curate ethical, meaningful mentoring relationships between volunteers and youth.

The Wisdom of Age: A Handbook for Staff (2009)
This resource from MENTOR serves to equip staff of mentoring programs with the tools and knowledge necessary to most effectively recruit, train, and support mentors over the age of 50.

The Wisdom of Age: A Handbook for Mentors (2009)
Similarly, this resource from MENTOR provides hand-on training exercises and tools to help mentors over the age of 50 be prepared to be a good mentor. It includes tools, tips, and activities aimed at helping the mentor to establish his/her role, be competent enough in modern youth culture, and sustain the mentoring relationship.

Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers (2006)
This research report from MENTOR discusses techniques that not only can help programs recruit mentors, but that also assist programs in retaining volunteers for a significant amount of time. It discusses the need for long-term volunteers as well as the role motivation plays in retaining volunteers, concluding that it is imperative that the way a program markets itself needs to match what the actual experience will be like in order for volunteers to continue.


mentoring program examples

Be a Middle School Mentor
The United Way of Allegheny County partnered with Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania to create this mentoring initiative. Mentors are matched with a local mentoring agency in the Pittsburgh area and then paired with a student in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. Mentors meet their mentee at the student's school. Also, mentors are trained by their mentoring agency to ensure quality services. Head to their website to learn more!

Girls Incorporated of Lynn
This non-profit organization in Massachusetts has developed a strong, comprehensive program targeted to at-risk girls. Trained mentoring professionals work with the girls to improve their lives by offering a wide variety of services, from empowerment workshops to STEAM opportunities to literacy training. The afterschool program they created called "Odyssey" specifically equips mentors to provide social and academic support for middle school students through a once a week program. They have partnered with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

BBBS of the Greater Twin Cities
This Big Brothers Big Sisters program based in Minnesota operates a high-quality mentoring program. Head to their website to see examples of how different types of mentoring programs can be structured — they operate a number of community-based mentoring, school-based mentoring, and education & enrichment programs, all centered around using a mentoring relationship to create positive change.


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