Displaying items by tag: School environment

Friday, 12 August 2016 16:47

School-Based Mentoring

School-Based MentoringMentoring at K-12 schools, whether by volunteers or school personnel, has been an increasingly popular choice for bringing caring adult and older peer relationships to the lives of more youth for several decades. The school setting is often seen as an opportunity for reaching larger numbers of youth in a controlled setting that also allows access to educational, recreational, and developmental supports that may enhance the mentoring relationship. School-based programs run the gamut of structures and goals:

  • They can be delivered in one-to-one, group, or team formats, allowing for flexibility in activity offerings based on the number of available mentors and the resources available at the site. They can even involve the uses of older students as mentors in a “near peer” format.

  • They often, because of the school setting, emphasize aims of facilitating academic gains or improvements in school connectedness and attendance by participating youth⎯although it’s worth noting that many school-based mentoring programs emphasize non-academic goals, such as personal growth, artistic expression, future planning and goal setting (often around the transition into college or career), and social-emotional development.

  • They can be run directly by school personnel or through a partnership with a community-based service provider who coordinates the program on-site in collaboration with the school leadership.

Regardless of the structure, staffing, and goals of the program, mentoring programs in schools have shown to be a cost-efficient way of increasing the positive relationships students have in their lives, while also having the potential to boost factors that can lead to educational success, such as connectedness to the school environment and peers, improved relationships with teachers and staff, improved feelings of academic competence, and greater access and use of other supports, such as tutoring, credit tracking, counseling, and postsecondary planning.

What does the research say about school-based mentoring?

There have been many prominent evaluations of school-based mentoring programs that are worth noting:

  • The 2007 study of Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring model found evidence that school-based mentoring programs could produce outcomes that were similar in size to those found in community-based programs, albeit in slightly different areas of emphasis. This study found evidence of statistically significant impacts primarily in school-related attitudes, performance, and behavior (such as attendance). Unfortunately, the study also found that programs had a difficult time providing a meaningful volume of mentoring during the school year and that the indicated impacts of the program did not appear to continue into the following year. Subsequent analysis found evidence that older students serving as peer mentors were notably less effective than their adult counterparts, draining some of the broader enthusiasm from a growing peer mentoring movement.

  • A 2009 study of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program reported statistically significant improvements for mentored youth compared to controls on a number of outcome measures, including perceived scholastic efficacy, truancy, and absenteeism. However, after correcting for potential capitalization on chance due to testing of effects for numerous outcomes, the authors concluded that there were no impacts on any of the student outcomes measured, either academic or social-emotional outcomes.

  • The 2008 study of the SMILE program found statistically significant gains for mentored youth (compared to a control group) in several outcomes related to self-esteem and peer support, although the strength of these findings varied considerably based on age, gender, and race. Furthermore, no evidence of program impact at the level of the overall sample was found for any of 17 other outcomes tested in this study.

  • More recently, a deeper analysis of Big Brothers Big Sister school-based mentoring data found evidence that relationship closeness (i.e., how close youth reported feeling to their mentors) was a key predictor of academic gains for participating youth. Notably, this same study found evidence that programs like this could achieve academic improvements for youth without emphasizing academics explicitly in program activities or in mentors’ approach, potentially freeing school-based programs to offer a wider variety of supports and activities while still meeting academic goals. This study also found evidence suggesting that youth could be effectively rematched within a school year provided that their second match was also close and satisfying to the youth.

  • A meta-analysis by Wood and Mayo in 2012 synthesized findings from 6 evaluations of the impact of school-based mentoring for adolescents (11–18 years) on academic performance, attendance, attitudes, behavior, and self-esteem. The authors concluded that the mentoring programs included in this review did not reliably improve any of the outcomes examined.

It is also worth noting that DuBois and colleagues’ 2011 meta-analysis, which included mentoring programs of many types serving youth across a wide range of ages, found evidence of favorable program effects on youths’ grades, attendance, school behavior, and other academic growth.

What does the NMRC offer on school-based mentoring?

Reviews of Specific Programs

  • The Achievement Mentoring Program is an intervention for urban freshman at risk of dropping out of high school, with the goal of enhancing school-related cognitions and behaviors. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • An E-Mentoring Program for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities intends to improve students’ ability to identify postsecondary career goals and the steps necessary to achieve them. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • Brief Instrumental School-Based Mentoring Program is a school-based intervention designed for at-risk middle school students that aims to improve academic performance, promote school connectedness, and life satisfaction and to decrease disciplinary actions. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • The Cross-Age Peer Mentoring Program is a school-based peer mentoring program in which high school students provide one-on-one mentoring to late elementary and early middle school students. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • Experience Corps is a tutoring and mentoring program to improve the literacy outcomes of elementary school-aged children at risk of academic failure. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • The Peer Group Connection (PGC) Program is a high school transition program that targets 9th-grade students in urban high schools who are at-risk of dropping out. The goal is to improve high school graduation rates among participating youths by having junior and senior high school students serve as peer mentors. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • The Rochester Resilience Project (RRP) is a school-based intervention to improve the social-emotional and behavioral skills of young children (K-3rd grade) at risk for mental health disorders and substance abuse. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • The School-Based Mentoring Program for At-Risk Middle School Youth is a one-to-one mentoring program offered to at-risk students in 7th to 9th grades in an urban middle school setting to reduce their discipline referrals and school absences and to improve their school connectedness. Read the review and the insights for practitioners.
  • Sources of Strength is a school-based suicide prevention program designed to build socioecological-protective influences across a full student population, using youth opinion leaders from diverse social cliques to develop and deliver, with adult mentoring, messaging aimed at changing the norms and behaviors of their peers. Read the review and insights for practitioners.
  • Career Academy is a school within a school that uses a multifaceted approach to foster academic success, mental and emotional health, and labor market success. Read the review.
  • Check & Connect is a school-based, structured mentoring program designed to reduce school absences and promote student engagement. Read the review and our insights for practitioners. Additionally, read the review and insights for Check & Connect Plus Truancy Board, which pairs the Check & Connect model with a direct partnership with the community truancy board, a group of community leaders, school officials, and representatives of juvenile courts.

Reviews of Relevant Practices

  • School-based mentoring may involve acting on behalf of students to promote positive outcomes. Read the practice review of Support for Mentor Advocacy and insights for practitioners.
  • School-based mentoring programs may provide structured activity curricula or guidance to mentors about activities they can do with mentees. Read the practice review of Mentor-Mentee Activity Guidance and insights for practitioners.

Blog Posts


Implementation Resources

TA Spotlight

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)’s Investments in 
School-Based Mentoring

  • OJJDP has funded several mentoring programs in recent years that focus on or incorporate school-based mentoring. The AARP Foundation’s Experience Corps Mentors Program, a school-based tutoring and mentoring program that seeks to improve the literacy outcomes of elementary school-aged children at risk of academic failure, is a 2015 OJJDP Mentoring Grantee. The Center for Supportive School’s Peer Group Connection (PGC) Program, and Friends First’s STARS Peer Mentoring Program are some recent examples.

Select Additional Reading

Published in Topic Areas

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on August 19, 2014

Program Summary

Offered one-to-one mentoring program to at-risk students in 7th to 9th grades in an urban middle school setting to reduce their discipline referrals and school absences and to improve their school connectedness. This program is rated Promising. The program was associated with a significant decline in the number of office disciplinary referrals and a significant increase in school connectedness. However, the program had no significant impact on unexcused absences.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

*Note: The National Mentoring Resource Center makes these “Insights for Mentoring Practitioners” available for each program or practice reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. Their purpose is to give mentoring professionals additional information and understanding that can help them apply reviews to their own programs. You can read the full review on the Crime Solutions website.

In considering the key takeaways from the research on this program that other mentoring programs can apply to their work, it’s useful to reflect on features and practices might have influenced its rating as “Promising” (that is, a program that shows encouraging, but not definitive evidence of effectiveness).

Is it all in the timing?

A program, such as this one, targeting youth who are becoming disconnected from school (and the accompanying truancy and disciplinary issues) might be especially beneficial during the middle school years, when the first signs of eventually dropping out begin to appear.

Is short and sweet the answer?

This program achieved its outcomes (reduced disciplinary referrals; increased school connectedness) in an 18-week model, with the average match only meeting about 15 times in that span. The findings of this program’s evaluation thus suggest that it is possible for a school-based mentoring program to achieve significant outcomes when matches, by design, last less than a full school year (although other research suggests that full-year, or even multi-year school-based mentoring might be ideal). Thus, mentoring may be an intervention offered after students have shown signs of disengagement earlier in the school year.

Can school personnel be effective mentors?

Some practitioners feel that youth often respond better to a community mentor coming into the school environment, especially if the student feels low levels of trust and connectedness to teachers and school personnel. Mentors then may serve as “bridge-builders” to improve those school relationships and promote academic success. Yet, in this program, teachers and other school staff served as mentors with encouraging results. There are a number of potential advantages of this approach, as school personnel may:

  • Already be familiar with the youth being mentored
  • Have professional qualifications and prior experience that make them especially well-equipped to work with youth (especially in the school context)
  • Have recurring opportunities to see and engage with the youth whom they are mentoring by virtue of being a member of the same school community—one benefit of which may simply be greater ease in scheduling mentoring sessions

It’s also important to note that teachers were not allowed to mentor students who were in their own classes. This is an important wrinkle as it attempts to sidestep some of the potential complications that might arise when pairing a teacher and a student who would bring a personal history—perhaps negative—to their newly formed mentoring relationship. Furthermore, the program still provided a lot of initial training (two and a half days) and ongoing match support. These features of the program remind us that teachers and other school staff should not be assumed to come “mentoring-ready”—they are assuming a new, and perhaps unfamiliar, role with students and should be trained and supported accordingly. It should be kept in mind, too, that there was no comparison in this study with community mentors. It may be that such mentors would have been equally or even more impactful, but that remains unknown.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that mentors were paid a stipend for taking on the role ($400 for mentoring one youth, $600 for two). It’s unclear whether this was to generate buy-in and ensure full program participation or was a requirement of a collective bargaining agreement around compensating staff for extra responsibilities. Regardless, practitioners may want to think about whether compensating teachers and other staff who serve as mentors will bolster program participation.

To screen or not to screen?

The school staff who did mentor all volunteered for the opportunity, with several self-selecting out after an orientation session explaining the nature and activities of the program. It’s reassuring that several staff members recognized that, although already working with youth in other capacities, they might not be the best fit for the program, perhaps due to their communication styles or simply scheduling availability. But it’s also possible that there were mentors in this program who might have been screened out if it was a program coordinator making the determination about who was a good fit. Practitioners should keep in mind that not all school personnel will be appropriate to serve in a mentoring capacity and that relying solely on a process of “self-screening” might not result in the best possible pool of mentors.

Does school-based mentoring need to be rigidly school-focused?

One of the most challenging questions that those mounting mentoring programs in schools face is how much (if any) of an overt focus there should be on academics. Two findings from this study are noteworthy in this regard. First, mentors who viewed their experience positively, when compared to those who questioned the impact of their mentoring relationship, reported more relaxed meetings, more laughter and easy conversation, and tended to do activities like playing games, craft projects, and sharing food. They also talked about school and academics slightly more than the “questioning” group, yet neither group spent much time focused on school-related conversations. Second, mentees of the “viewed positively” group met more often with their mentors and also had better outcomes in terms of disciplinary referrals. Taken together, these findings suggest that one of the keys to making school-based mentoring relationships work may be to spend time, perhaps especially early in the relationship, building rapport and having some fun, thereby emphasizing that this relationship will be different than the normal interactions students have with staff. Of course, there also may have been influential pre-existing differences in the two groups of youth or their mentors, a consideration which underscores that such findings should not be taken as the last word on what makes for a successful school-based mentoring relationship.

For more information on research-informed program practices and tools for implementation, be sure to consult the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ and the "Resourcessection of the National Mentoring Resource Center website.

Webinar Date: October 15, 2015


  • Dr. Robert Balfanz, Johns Hopkins University, School of Education
  • Cheryl Ward, Columbus City Schools
  • Abby Fisher, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio


Paper Early Warning System Implementation Guide
Paper On Track for Success
Paper Continuous Improvement Action Plan Summary
Paper Download the Presentation Slides

Published in Webinars
MARCH 1, 2016

MENTOR's landmark 2014 report, The Mentoring Effect, uncovered a significant national phenomenon known as the “mentoring gap”:


Recent research suggests that even if we could double the current number of volunteer adult mentors, programs would still be reaching less than 10% of the young people in need. Researcher Jean Rhodes concludes, “Although volunteer mentoring will always have a vital role to play in the lives of children, the sum total of our individual acts of kindness will never compensate for the kinds of systemic changes that are also needed.” At the Center for Supportive Schools (CSS), we suggest the widespread activation of young people as peer mentors within schools as a powerful systemic change with great potential to help close this gap.

 School-Based Mentoring
Published in NMRC Blog
Monday, 24 September 2018 11:46

School-Integrated Mentoring

Webinar Date: September 20, 2018


  • Delia Hagan, Director of Program and Training Delivery, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership
  • Derald Davis, Assistant Superintendent, Kansas City Public Schools
  • Christine Lloyd, Director of Integrated Wellness, Connecting Youth


Paper Download the Presentation Slides

Published in Webinars
Thursday, 29 December 2016 14:19

Search Institute’s REACH Resources Overview

  • Description of Resource:

    The REACH Resources Overview offers information and recommendations for schools interested in promoting social-emotional learning among students. It reviews the REACH model and the resources that schools can access through the SEARCH Institute to support students in improving academic motivation and educational outcomes. This resource reviews the REACH framework and associated standards and strategies as well as a survey that is available to help schools assess students’ development of social and emotional skills.


    To summarize the resources available to schools through SEARCH Institute to help them incorporate the REACH framework for supporting student motivation and educational success.

    Target Population/Eligibility of Target Sites:

    School-based mentoring practitioners

    Corresponding Elements of Effective Practice:

    Monitoring and Support

    Key Personnel:


    Additional Information:


  • Resource Name:

    Search Institute’s REACH Resources Overview


    Search Institute


    Search Institute

    Date of Publication:


    Resource Type:

    Program Management Resources

  • Evaluation Methodology:

    Resource has not been evaluated for effectiveness

    Evaluation Outcomes:

    Resource has not been evaluated for effectiveness

    Evaluation Validity:

    Resource has not been evaluated for effectiveness

  • Accessing and Using this Resource:

    This resource is available for free download in PDF form at: http://bit.ly/2hwZRnV

  • References:

    Evidence Base: N/A

    Additional References: N/A

Search Institute’s REACH Resources Overview

Access this Resource

Click here to download a PDF of this Resource.

Friday, 19 August 2016 10:43

Sources of Strength

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on June 13, 2016

Program Summary

This is a school-based, suicide prevention program designed to build socioecological-protective influences across a full student population, using youth opinion leaders from diverse social cliques to develop and deliver, with adult mentoring, messaging aimed at changing the norms and behaviors of their peers. This program is rated Promising. Peer leaders in the intervention schools showed significant improvements on perceptions and behaviors pertaining to suicide and on social connectedness.

You can read the full review on CrimeSolutions.gov.

Thursday, 16 June 2016 13:25

Sources of Strength

*Note: The National Mentoring Resource Center makes these “Insights for Mentoring Practitioners” available for each program or practice reviewed by the National Mentoring Resource Center Research Board. Their purpose is to give mentoring professionals additional information and understanding that can help them apply reviews to their own programs. You can read the full review on the Crime Solutions website.

In considering key takeaways from the research on this program that other mentoring programs can apply to their work, it’s useful to reflect on the features and practices that might have influenced its rating as “Promising” (that is, a program that shows encouraging, but not definitive evidence of effectiveness).

The power of key peer leaders.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Sources of Strength (SoS) model is the identification of key individuals in the student body as both recipients and creators/deliverers of the program itself. Educators have long lamented the presence of “cliques” and different social groups (often hierarchical) in schools, correctly noting that these groups are often the source of student bullying, marginalization, and disconnection. In many ways, cliques are often responsible for many students developing suicidal thoughts in the first place.

But SoS takes the existence of cliques at face value and tries to use them to their advantage in delivering messages about preventing suicide and seeking support around the issue. By nominating a key individual within specific cliques, the program attempts to essentially create an “in” that will allow the messages of the program to penetrate even the most disconnected and alienated groups on campus. This takes advantage of the fact that students often look up to other students and that cliques are often led by one or two charismatic individuals whose words and actions matter deeply to the other members of the group.

SoS takes this idea a step further by asking these peer leaders to also design the messages and activities of the program itself. This is really helpful in ensuring that the messages related to suicide will be “on point” and relevant to the intended audience. Rather than adults guessing at what students might find engaging, this program enlists the students themselves in designing and delivering the program for the year. This empowers the student leaders, providing leadership skill development that is inherently valuable to their future. It also allows the content of the program to be adapted to local needs and circumstances and creates a less hierarchical nature to the information being provided. It’s not some “lame” adult telling you what to think or do -- it’s respected peers, including some from our own social circles.

Using peer leaders in this way, and delivering the program to the whole student body, also may help sustain the program over time. Younger students see their near peers taking on this leadership effort and may consider doing so themselves if approached later. They also get to see and experience the content of the program and may have ideas that they can bring to future years of the program. Because youth are empowered in this program, it may be easier for this model to become a bit self-sustaining, as the recipients of yesterday become the peer leaders and deliverers of tomorrow.

There are other programs in the school-based mentoring space that use peer leaders to help design and deliver program services with similarly encouraging results (e.g., CAMP and Peer Group Connection, both of which have been reviewed by the NMRC). How can your program take advantage of the strong influence of idolized peers to help spread the scope and scale of the intervention? Hopefully more mentoring programs will provide youth with this opportunity to lead.

Lots of adult support too.

In spite of the heavy emphasis on peer leaders in the program, there is also a lot of adult scaffolding in the SoS model. In fact, the program emphasizes the role of adults in several critical areas. First is in the initial buy-in and planning for the program. Because it’s an intervention ultimately delivered to the entire student body, SoS really stresses getting buy-in and support from school administrators, teachers, and other leaders. The website for the program highlights many of the start-up activities that need to be implemented before the program can be rolled out. The program also requires up to six hours of training for the adult advisors and a one-hour training for all faculty on how the program works. The advisors then play a critical role in meeting with the peer leaders to develop messaging strategies and implement the year-long activities.

Once again, we find similar structures of adults providing just enough help to youth leaders in similar models in the field (you can read about how Peer Group Connection handles this here). So if your program does decide to empower peer leaders in this way, don’t forget to provide some guidance and adult support along the way.

The other obvious way that the program uses adults is that they serve as the “sources” that youth identify as being a potential support if they are ever struggling with suicidal thoughts or intentions. This is a really valuable activity for students to engage in. Many mentoring programs engage mentees in doing some sort of mapping exercise that allows them to identify caring adults to whom they have access. SoS is providing that opportunity to the entire student body. That simple act may wind up doing far more good than the program could even know. It can be challenging for youth to think actively about who they could turn to when they have issues and who they actually have that kind of connection to (teenagers are not the most self-reflective group and one of the hallmarks of suicidal thinking in particular is a failure to recognize other viable options for coping or problem-solving). So even if it’s totally unrelated to suicidal ideation, the fact that these youth are taking stock of their “caring adult” assets in this way is a good thing.

Strong replication and implementation information.

Unlike many of the programs that get reviewed for Crime Solutions, the SoS program provides ample information for practitioners about how to replicate the program in their school. The program website offers a wealth of information: FAQs, cost details, staffing needs, implementation materials, even a “readiness” questionnaire that can help school leaders determine if they are ready to take on the challenge of implementing the program. It’s refreshing to see a program be so open and honest about their model, what it can achieve, the resources needed to do it well, and how interested practitioners can work with the developers to bring this success (around such a critical topic) to their students. Others should take note of how well this program has tried to spread key information about what their model can achieve and how others can be part of their work.

For more information on research-informed program practices and tools for implementation, be sure to consult the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ and the "Resources for Mentoring Programs" section of the National Mentoring Resource Center site.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2017

Success Mentors Districts Convene to Share Promising School-Integrated Mentoring PracticesOn September 19th and 20th, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership was invited to participate in the Success Mentor Peer Learning Convening, a meeting of Success Mentors program leaders from 30 diverse school districts across the country, facilitated by the National Student Attendance, Engagement and Success Center (NSAESC). The 30 districts that are a part of this initiative launched Success Mentors programs as a part of the White House My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Success Mentors Initiative in 2016, and have continued them with the support of the NSAESC, a new technical assistance center funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students. Success Mentors is a mentoring model that focuses on facilitating relationships between students and mentors in the school environment to help reduce chronic absenteeism and help schools meet critical student and family needs.

Published in NMRC Blog
Page 6 of 7

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