OJJDP's Research and Evaluation Initiatives in Mentoring
In addition to supporting a variety of programmatic approaches that emphasize the use of mentoring research, OJJDP has focused on translating mentoring research to practice through a three prong strategy that includes disseminating information about evidence-based and research-informed mentoring practices, more strategically and effectively integrating research into mentoring practice, and supporting ongoing evaluation and assessments of innovative mentoring approaches.
Disseminating evidence-based mentoring resources
OJJDP's National Mentoring Resource Center includes a Research Board that oversees the development of the tools and resources in the "What Works" section and guides the training and technical assistance approach.
Integrating research into mentoring practice
OJJDP has supported three demonstration mentoring programs that promote practitioner-researcher partnerships and match innovative programmatic designing with ongoing evaluation. This includes:
- Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program
- Practitioner-Researcher Partnership Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Demonstration Program
- Practitioner-Researcher Partnership in Cognitive Behavioral Mentoring Program
- Mentoring Research Partners Program
Evaluation of innovative mentoring approaches
OJJDP supports investigator-initiated evaluation and research to better understand what works in mentoring and the underlying practices or mechanisms of these approaches. This includes:
- Mentoring Best Practices Research
- High-Risk Youth Mentoring Research
- Mentoring Research Partners Program
OJJDP’s Research Projects
OJJDP supports research, evaluations, and statistical projects across diverse topical areas. The OJJDP research project pages provide brief overviews of those initiatives and links to final reports, when applicable. The current project pages reflect some, but not all of OJJDP's current initiatives. You can view all of the pages here; more will be added as they are completed. Project pages on mentoring-specific research projects include:
- Research Project Page: OJJDP Practitioner-Researcher Partnership Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Demonstration Program
- Research Project Page: Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program
- Research Project Page: Evaluation of a Cross-age Peer Mentoring Program for Youth in High Violence Communities
- Research Project Page: Evaluation of an Advocacy-based Mentoring Program
The NMRC recently completed a synthesis of 14 research projects funded by OJJDP between FY2009 and FY2017. This synthesis highlights the methodology, findings, and practical conclusions of each study, while also offering a global perspective around the common features, strengths, and challenges across the entire body of research work funded by OJJDP. This synthesis will be valuable to programs who want to better understand the rich body of innovative research funded by OJJDP over the last decade, as well as to policymakers and funders looking to find keys to success when funding research projects in mentoring contexts. The full synthesis can be downloaded at: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/grants/252166.pdf
Recent OJJDP-Sponsored Mentoring Research Findings
- Advocacy-based Mentoring Evaluation – Details findings of an advocacy-focused mentoring approach on delinquency and related outcomes.
- Associations between Parental Characteristics, Attitudes, and Engagement on Mentoring Relationship Outcomes – This study found that parental engagement with the mentor and mentoring program was associated with reductions in youth involvement in substance use, delinquency, and risky behaviors.
- Evaluation of the Effects of a Mentoring Program for Youth in Foster Care on Their Criminal Justice Involvement as Young Adults – The evaluation of the “My Life” mentoring program for youth in foster care found less criminal offending in early adulthood among male participants. The findings of this study suggest that a structured, weekly mentoring program specifically for foster care youth may reduce and prevent offending in early adulthood.
- Mentee Risk Status and Mentoring Program Practices as Predictors of Match Outcomes – Mentees with many risk factors, such as beginning their mentoring relationship as an adolescent, having antisocial behavior problems, or experiencing many stressful life experiences, are less likely to have effective and long lasting mentoring relationships, compared to mentees with fewer risk factors; however, mentoring program practices make a difference, even with high-risk youth.
- Mentoring Best Practices Research: Effectiveness of Juvenile Mentoring for Youth on Parole and Probation in Ohio – This study determined that youth on parole and probation in Ohio who received mentoring services did not reduce delinquent behavior and the findings suggest that mentoring programs working with youth in the justice system should tailor their approaches for this unique population.
- Prediction and Prevention of Premature Closures of Mentoring Relationships: The Study To Analyze Relationships (STAR Project) – The key finding is that the relationships among mentors, youth, parents, and program staff all influence the mentoring relationship. Mismatched expectations among any one of these parties may lead to early match closure.
- The Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Project – This project was intended to test whether a variety of mentoring programs could make key programmatic enhancements to their usual services that could assist mentors in taking on a greater teaching or advocacy role, thereby boosting outcomes for youth served. The project tested a variety of enhanced practices across 10 multi-program collaborative sites. View the appendices here. Watch two webinars on this project: Lessons Learned from the Implementation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Project and Findings from the Outcome Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Project. Read an interview from one of the project researchers reviewing the project design and findings here.