National Mentoring Resource Center Blog

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Strengthening Connections: Mentoring Youth During a Pandemic

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.

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Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2019 Native Summit: People, Passion, Purpose

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.

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Measuring the Impact of Mentoring Across Diverse Youth: The Potential of Youth-Centered Outcomes

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.

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Youth, Mentoring, and the Opioid Crisis: New Tools for Assessing Needs and Tracking Outcomes

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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Fostering Healthy Futures

SEPTEMBER 30, 2019

Fostering Healthy Futures

We recently published a paper replicating findings from previous research on the mental health impacts of the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program (Taussig, Weiler, Garrido, Rhodes, Boat & Fadell, 2019). The study was a randomized controlled trial with 426 children who were randomly assigned to either FHF or the control condition. Below are a few important takeaways from this research.

Briefly, FHF is a mentoring and skills group program for preadolescent youth (ages 9-11) who have experienced maltreatment and been placed in foster care. The mentors are graduate students in social work and psychology who receive course credit for their mentoring. Each graduate student mentors two children in one-to-one matches over the course of 30 weeks (across the academic year). They also provide transportation for their mentees to and from a weekly skills group.

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