NMRC Blog (121)

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

Mentoring Innovations in Times of Crisis

The coronavirus has created an unprecedented crisis which has impacted the way we live, work, and interact.  Mentors are needed now more than ever to support youth during this time of COVID-19, providing comfort, connection, and suggestions to navigate this uncharted environment.  For many young people with disabilities, COVID-19 posed an even greater risk due to the high-risk nature of many health conditions and disabilities. 

We have long believed that practices which are inclusive and trauma informed benefit all youth. The benefits of these practices have become even more pronounced in the pandemic as the country experienced a collective trauma and increased need to adapt. Below we have highlighted the ways we’ve applied five trauma informed principles: voice and choice; a culture of self-care, promoting safety, access to resources and cultural humility, adapted from the Boston Public Health Commission’s Trauma Awareness and Resilience Training for Boston Area Youth Workers. These principles are interwoven and intersect with best practices for inclusion; as we have pivoted our programming during the pandemic, we have kept these practices in mind as a foundation.

FEBRUARY 28, 2021

We are happy to announce that some innovative original research developed by the National Mentoring Resource Center has been accepted into the journal Prevention Science and published earlier this year. Research Board members Sam McQuillin (Univ. of South Carolina) and Michael Lyons (Univ. of Virginia) led this research project, which applied cutting edge machine learning techniques to examine predictors of early match closure in the responses of a national mentoring program survey.  Among all of the program characteristics examined, the frequency of ongoing training and match support was the one factor that stood out as being a solid predictor of whether a program’s matches lasted as long as intended.

OCTOBER 16, 2020

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, but at Camp Mariposa, every month is bullying prevention month. Camp Mariposa is a national addiction prevention and mentoring program that serves youth ages 9–17 who are affected by a family member’s substance use disorder. Camp Mariposa is funded and coordinated by Eluna, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to support children and families impacted by addiction. Camp Mariposa uses a group and peer mentoring model in which youth and trained adult mentors make a one-year commitment to the program. Many youth who attend Camp Mariposa have experienced bullying and significant trauma—including abuse, neglect, and the addiction-related loss of loved ones due to incarceration and/or death. The mentors and staff at Camp Mariposa create a safe and supportive community where kids can be kids and escape the challenges of their daily lives.

JULY 16, 2020


Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona is a nonprofit agency that transforms children’s trauma to resilience through the arts. In 2013 Free Arts started an Alumni program which has grown to include over 25 active alumni. In the Alumni program teens and young adults who have participated in previous Free Arts programs, build skills and community by engaging in art activities, leadership training, and apprenticeships. Most Free Arts Alumni have transitioned out of congregate care (group homes, shelters, or treatment centers) and are living on their own or with family members. During COVID-19, Free Arts has been checking in on Alumni weekly, delivering art supplies, and hosting connection calls where alumni can share their art, feelings, struggles, and triumphs with one another. One thing that has stood out during these calls is how resilient the alumni have been and how they are using their creativity to express themselves and cope during this difficult time.

Free Arts recently interviewed a few alumni to understand more deeply what their COVID experiences have been like and how they are using art to cope. These are their stories and responses.

MAY 8, 2020
An Interview with Alicia Espinoza, Project Hero Coordinator at Escondido Education COMPACT

Project Hero

In many communities throughout the country, there is a need for dedicated support and prevention strategies for youth who misuse substances. In response to this need, innovative programs have been organized, centered around helping youth to cope with the impact that substances have on themselves and their peers.

In Escondido, California, Alicia Espinoza coordinates a mentoring program funded by OJJDP that serves justice-involved youth and that places a significant emphasis on not only supporting youth to reduce recidivism, but also to overcome substance misuse. The program, called Project Hero, works closely with several groups of important stakeholders, including law enforcement.

APRIL 20, 2020

Strengthening Connections

Youth mentoring relies on the power of human connections. Maintaining those connections in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic may be challenging, but it is an important and worthwhile effort. As President Trump said, “Mentors serve not only as role models for young people but also as an inspiration to dream big and pursue any goal—regardless of circumstance.”

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has funded mentoring programs for more than two decades, and continues to support them during this public health emergency. OJJDP’s partners have risen to the occasion and we have been inspired by their dedication, creativity, and adaptability. The following are a few examples of how our grantees are using innovative strategies and technology to help ensure that mentors across the nation can continue to assist youth with homework, listen to and advise their mentees, and guide and inspire youth safely and effectively.

FEBRUARY 28, 2020

2019 Native Summit

OJJDP Grantee Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is the nation’s largest service provider for Native youth serving over 110,000 Native youth in over 200 Native Clubs and representing 114 Tribal communities. BCGA recently held their bi-annual Native Summit from November 5-7, 2019 in Orlando, FL. The anticipated event centered on the themes that define the impact of Native Clubs across the country; People, Passion, Purpose. The event, hosted by BGCA Native Services, offered hundreds of youth-serving professionals with the opportunity to gather and share their expertise implementing culturally relevant programming, mentoring, best practices and more.

A critical element of success for Native Boys & Girls Clubs is mentoring programming and its proven ability to uplift and support Native youth by matching them with adults who genuinely care about their futures. The Native Summit provided breakout sessions for participants to more deeply explore the topic of mentoring, particularly in terms of identifying current best practices and securing additional funding to reach more Native youth.

OCTOBER 2, 2019

The field of mentoring has frequently debated the essential ingredient of relationships to promote positive outcomes in mentees. On one hand, some argue that developmental support, mentoring behaviors that build closeness in the match and promote a mentee’s self-concept and emotional development, is key. On the other hand, some see the defining feature of mentoring as instrumental support, mentoring behaviors aimed at helping a mentee reach his or her goals. Recent research by Lyons, McQuillin, and Henderson on school-based mentoring programs indicated that both types of behaviors are essential to maximizing the benefits of mentoring relationships.1 They found correlational evidence that mentee-reported relationship quality and mentor-reported use of goal-setting activities and provision of feedback jointly impacted youth academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes. The authors suggested that a balance of instrumental and developmental activities might be a “sweet-spot” for matches to find.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019


Back in June of last year, Mike Garringer contributed an entry on this blog that addressed the ways in which mentoring for youth potentially could be useful in combating the opioid crisis (see "The Promise and Potential of Mentors in Combating the Opioid Crisis"). Mike highlighted a number of promising areas for mentors to be an asset to young people already engaged in opioid abuse (e.g., providing hope and motivation for recovery, connecting them to and supporting their engagement in treatment services). He also emphasized the potential for mentors to be helpful on the "front-end" of this issue by supporting the healthy development of young people in ways that prevent the initiation of use altogether (i.e., primary prevention). Finally, and I think this may turn out be a particularly fruitful avenue of contribution, he called attention to the potential of mentoring to be an important source of support for young people who have suffered fallout from the opioid misuse of parental or other adult support figures. As Mike noted, in fact, we already have good evidence that mentors can be beneficial to youth whose adult support systems are disrupted or otherwise compromised due to incarceration of a parent or the youth's placement into foster care, each of which are situations often experienced by youth whose parents are struggling with opioid use.

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