Mentoring Populations At Risk

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Mentoring populations at Risk

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction4


Chapter Two: Literature Review9

National Youth-Serving Organizations10

Public Agency Programs11

Youth Sports Organization12

Private Organizations13

Mentoring of Youth at risk13

Content and Structure15

Characteristics of Mentoring Relationships18

Logistic Regression Analyses19

Education and work19

Problem behavior19

Psychological well-being20

Physical health20


Mentoring and At-Risk Youth24

Applied Implications and Directions for Future Research26


Gifted youth or population at risk?29

Characteristics of Gifted Youth31

Mentoring Programs for Gifted Youth32

The Executive Internship Program33

The Laboratory Experience Program37

University-Based Summer Programs38

Potential Risk Factors40

The Risks of "Drive-by" Mentoring46

The Problem of Social Distance47

Characteristics of Ideal Mentors48

Program Structure48

Research about Effectiveness54

Program Evaluation55

Roadblocks to Success56

African American Programming Issues57

Barriers to Success59

Chapter Three: Methodology61






TABLE 1--Mentoring as Predictor of Educational and Work Outcomes72

TABLE 2--Mentoring as Predictor of Problem Behavior Outcomes73

TABLE 3--Mentoring as Predictor of Psychological Well-Being Outcomes74

TABLE 4--Mentoring as Predictor of Physical Health Outcomes75

Chapter One: Introduction


We used nationally representative data to examine the impact of natural (or informal) mentoring relationships on health-related outcomes among older adolescents and young adults. We examined outcomes from Wave III of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health as a function of whether or not respondents reported a mentoring relationship. Logistic regression was used with control for demographic variables, previous level of functioning, and individual and environmental risk.

Respondents who reported a mentoring relationship were more likely to exhibit favorable outcomes relating to education/work (completing high school, college attendance, working = 10 hours a week), reduced problem behavior (gang membership, hurting others in physical fights, risk taking), psychological well-being (heightened self-esteem, life satisfaction), and health (physical activity level, birth control use). However, effects of exposure to individual and environmental risk factors generally were larger in magnitude than protective effects associated with mentoring.

These findings suggest a broad and multifaceted impact of mentoring relationships on adolescent health. However, mentoring relationships alone are not enough to meet the needs of at-risk population at risks and therefore should be incorporated into more comprehensive interventions. (Am J Public Health. 2005; 95:518-524.)

Recently, mentoring of population at risk has received a great deal of attention in terms of both public awareness and government initiatives. ( n1, 2) Mentoring relationships may foster positive development and health among young people through several mechanisms, including the provision of social support, role modeling, opportunities to develop new skills, and advocacy.( n3-n6) Nonparent adults who function as mentors may serve as crucial educators and support figures, promoting learning and competence, providing exposure to positive social norms, increasing a sense of efficacy and mattering, and helping population at risk realize their full potential.( n3, n5, n6) Formal mentoring programs currently are very popular; the National Mentoring Database, for example, lists more than 4500 organizations that support mentoring activities.( n7)

A recent meta-analysis found evidence of a significant but small overall positive effect of mentoring programs on the emotional, behavioral, and educational functioning of participating population at risk (Cohen d=.14),( n8) Other recent reviews of the literature have reached similar conclusions.( n9, n10) Many population at risk, however, experience natural mentoring relationships outside of formal programs with persons such as extended family members, neighbors, teachers, and coaches.( n11-n20) In a recent survey of a nationally ...
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