How Effective are Mentoring Programs for Youth?

DuBois, D. L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J. E., Silverthorn, N., & Valentine, J. C. (2011). How effective are mentoring programs for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12(2), 57-91.

According to DuBois, Portillo, Rhodes, Silverthorn, and Valentine (2011) there has been a dramatic increase in the number of, and funding for, mentoring programs over the past decade. In order to investigate the effectiveness of these programs, these authors conducted a meta-analysis of 73 studies evaluating mentoring initiatives for children and adolescents. They found that overall, mentoring is effective, regardless of whether it takes the form of one-to-one interactions with adults, peer mentoring, or group formats. In addition, there was no critical period for such interventions; there are benefits of mentoring at ages from early childhood through adolescence. Mentees showed improved outcomes in a variety of areas, including academic, behavioral, social, and emotional competencies. The most effective programs carefully select mentors with educational and occupational experience that fits the goals of the program, match mentors and youth on similar interests, and provide support to mentors in meeting the program’s objectives. Dubois and colleagues suggested that future evaluations should investigate the long-term effectiveness of mentoring programs and the degree to which such programs might successfully address behaviors that are of social policy interest, such as juvenile offending and substance use.

Making Connections

Child development
Meta-analysis
Social learning
Social support

Media Supplement

In this TED Talk, Dave Eggers, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’ describes the tutoring and mentoring movement that he created.

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