Research and Reports

  • How Effective Are Mentoring Programs for Youth? A Systematic Assessment of the Evidence
    Author abstract: During the past decade, mentoring has proliferated as an intervention strategy for addressing the needs that young people have for adult support and guidance throughout their development. Currently, more than 5,000 mentoring programs serve an estimated three million youths in the United States. Funding and growth imperatives continue to fuel the expansion of programs as well as the diversification of mentoring approaches and applications. Important questions remain, however, about the effectiveness of these types of interventions and the conditions required to optimize benefits for young people who participate in them. In this article, we use meta-analysis to take stock of the current evidence on the effectiveness of mentoring programs for youth. The meta-analysis encompassed 73 independent evaluations of mentoring programs directed toward children and adolescents published over the past decade (1999-2010). Overall, findings support the effectiveness of mentoring for improved outcomes across behavioral, social, emotional, and academic domains of young people’s development. By David L. DuBois, Nelson Protillo, Jean E. Rhodes, Naida Silverthorn, and Jeffrey C. Valentine. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12(2), pp. 57-91.  (August 2011)
  • Evaluation of Foster Care Mentoring Pilot: Report to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas 80th Legislature
    A report on the findings of a youth in foster care mentoring pilot program, implemented by Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Texas (BBBSNT). Participants in the voluntary pilot were youth in foster care ages 14 years and older, screened by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). While there were problems with implementation of the program, youth who responded to a confidential survey reporting having positive experiences with their mentors. The report also makes recommendations for state-wide expansion and various improvements to the program. (November 2010)   
  • Impact of a Mentoring and Skills Group Program on Mental Health Outcomes for Maltreated Children in Foster Care
    This study’s objective is to evaluate the efficacy of the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, a 9-month preventative intervention, in reducing mental health and associated problems, using a randomized control trial of children ages 9-11 years old that were maltreated and placed in foster care. All participants received an assessment of their cognitive, educational, and mental health functioning. Additionally, children in the intervention group participated in a 9-month mentoring and skills group program, which the study found to result in improved mental health outcomes. By Healther N. Taussig and Sara E. Culhane. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 164(8), pp. 739-746. (August 2010)
  • Mentoring for Young People Leaving Foster Care: Promise and Potential Pitfalls
    Author abstract: Mentoring for youths transitioning out of the foster care system has been growing in popularity as mentoring programs have enjoyed unprecedented growth in recent years. However, the existing empirical literature on the conditions associated with more effective youth mentoring relationships and the potential for harm in their absence should give us pause, as meeting these conditions may be especially challenging when working with transitioning youths.  Using the social work professional lens to examine the potential and challenges of mentoring approaches for foster care youths, the authors review the literature on the effectiveness of youth mentoring programs and on the psychosocial outcomes and needs of youths leaving foster care. They offer a set of considerations for maximizing the potential benefits of mentoring for transitioning youths. The authors suggest that although mentoring may serve as an important component of a larger complement of services for transitioning youths, an individual-level intervention such as this does not eliminate the need for more systematic action to meet the many needs of these vulnerable youths. By Renee Spencer, Mary Elizabeth Collins, Rolanda Ward, and Svetlana Smashnaya. Social Work, 55(3), pp. 225-234. (July 2010)
  • Mentoring Adolescent Foster Youth: Promoting Resilience During Developmental Transitions
    Abstract: The current exploratory study used quantitative and qualitative data from an evaluation of the ‘Advocates to Successful Transition to Independence’ programme, a mentoring programme designed to train mentors to assist older adolescent foster youth in acquiring skills and resources needed for successful transition out of foster care and into adulthood. The study was conducted in two phases over 2 years. Quantitative methods were used to describe characteristics of the older adolescent foster youth and advocates, and qualitative methods were used to describe the experiences of youth and advocates in the programme. Results suggest that the use of a mentoring programme for older adolescent foster youth represents a particularly beneficial prevention strategy that may help prevent negative outcomes as youth emancipate from the foster care system and transition into young adulthood. Implications and recommendations for developing mentoring programmes for transition-aged youth are presented. By Kathy Lemon Osterling and Alice M. Hines. Child Welfare and Family Social Work, 11, pp. 242-253. (2006)
  • The Progress of Education Reform 2006: Mentoring
    This policy brief from the Education Commission of the States provides an overview of different types of mentoring programs, benefits and potential adverse effects of mentoring programs, and mentoring as part of school-wide reform efforts. (September 2006)
  • Mentoring for Young People Leaving Care
    From the United Kingdom's Joseph Rowntree Foundation: Mentoring for care leavers is a relatively recent development in the United Kingdom. This research builds on earlier mentoring research by the team from York University and was carried out in 14 mentoring projects supported by the Prince's Trust. The researchers looked at the impact of mentoring from the viewpoints of young people and their mentors, as well as outcomes for these young people. (November 2005)
  • Mentoring as a Family Strengthening Strategy
    This policy brief from the National Assembly's Family Strengthening Policy Center describes findings that suggest youth mentoring that involves parents or caregivers hold significant promise for strengthening disadvantaged families with children. Lessons learned and policy recommendations as well as useful resources are included in the brief. (November 2004)
  • Guides for the Journey: Supporting High-Risk Youth with Paid Mentors and Counselors
    This paper from Public/Private Ventures explores the potential of an emerging approach to increasing the level and quality of adult involvement with high-risk youth: extended contact with a paid mentor-counselor. A small number of programs where this approach is being tested and refined show considerable early promise, and encouraging track records are beginning to emerge. (June 2004)
  • Mentoring Programs and Youth Development: A Synthesis
    This synthesis, published by Child Trends, examines the role that mentoring plays in helping youth develop a broad array of strengths and capacities. The report seeks to answer the following questions: What do mentoring programs look like? How do mentoring programs contribute to youth development? What youth outcomes can we realistically expect mentoring programs to achieve? What are the characteristics of effective mentoring? (January 2002)


  • Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, Third Edition
    MENTOR’s keystone publication on mentoring standards has been updated and released to include the latest research and practice wisdom available to help mentoring relationships thrive and endure. This publication includes six evidence-based standards addressing mentor and mentee recruitment; screening; training; matching; monitoring and support; and closure. Each standard offers benchmarks for day-to-day operations, and they are applicable in stand-alone mentoring programs, as well as programs where mentoring is one element. Each standard also offers enhancements that program staff can incorporate. This resource includes a section on practical advice in building a new mentoring program or strengthening an existing one. It focuses on program design and planning; program management; and program evaluation. (2009)

    Also, see the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, 3rd Edition Checklist for Mentoring Programs.
  • Elements of Effective Practice™ Toolkit
    This comprehensive toolkit from MENTOR includes tools, templates, and advice for implementing and adhering to the second edition of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™ (see the resource above) to ensure quality mentoring. The toolkit is available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded as one document or in sections. (2005)

    In addition to the information it provides, the toolkit offers over 160 ready-to-use tools in English and Spanish that can be downloaded and adapted to your program’s needs. Tools are available: for Designing and Planning; to Manage a Program for Success; to Structure Effective Program Operations; and, to Establish Evaluation Criteria and Methods.
  • Wisdom of Age: A Handbook for Staff
    This guide book, published by MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, is a comprehensive resource designed to offer program staff with specific tools and promising practices to best recruit, train, and support mentors over the age of 50. This handbook acts as a supplemental guide to MENTOR’s “How to Build a Successful Mentoring Program Using the Elements of Effective Practice” toolkit (see the resource above). The handbook includes a series of “ready-to-use” tools, templates and training exercises that will take you through the different steps necessary to build quality mentoring relationships between youth and their 50+ mentors.

    MENTOR has also developed a companion piece, Wisdom of Age: A Handbook for Mentors, which provides direct guidance to older mentors by helping them develop the skills to feel confident as they proceed in their mentoring relationships.
  • Mentoring Immigrant and Refugee Youth: A Toolkit for Program Coordinators
    This toolkit published by includes the following chapters: (1) Mentoring for Immigrant Youth is Important; (2) Designing and Planning Inclusive Mentoring Programs and Relationships; (3) Managing a Culturally Competent Mentoring Program; (4) Finding and Preparing Mentors to Work with Immigrant Youth; and, (5) Creating and Supporting Mentoring Relationships for Immigrant Youth. It also provides key definitions and resources. (2009)
  • Foundations of Successful Youth Mentoring: A Guidebook for Program Development
    Mentoring has become a popular strategy for helping youth stay on track, but setting up and sustaining a successful program takes some thought and know-how, according to this guidebook. The manual includes checklists to gauge the strength of your efforts, and a timeline for setting up new programs. This resource was developed by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Mentoring Center, and the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. (March 2003)
  • Mentoring Initiatives: An Overview of Youth Mentoring
    This product is the result of a Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) initiative designed to assist parents and other adult caregivers with tools and strategies to intervene as mentors in the lives of their own children as well as the lives of their children's peers. (April 2000)
  • Mentoring Children in Foster Care: Considerations and Partnership Strategies for Senior Corps Directors
    This toolkit is designed to help Senior Corps directors recruit, train, and place volunteers in mentoring programs serving foster youth. It can also help identify and establish productive partnerships with mentoring programs and other agencies that are part of the foster care system. Well-coordinated services between Senior Corps and other partners will increase the positive impacts of mentoring, enabling children to cope better with their circumstances and transition more successfully into adulthood.
  • Take 5 for Tots
    The Leader to Leader Institute highlighted this intergenerational mentoring program as an Innovation of the Week. The program is designed to enhance services offered to young abused and neglected children at Casa de Amparo in San Diego, CA. Senior mentors from the community volunteer their knowledge, time and experience to provide an increased focus on developmental needs, increase the number of positive relationships between children and adults, and provide one-on-one support to ensure these children are receiving the most that can be offer in those critical first years of life.

Resources from the States

  • Washington: Foster Care to College Mentoring Program: Preliminary Report
    This report from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy presents preliminary information on the implementation of the Foster Care to College mentoring program in Washington State. This pilot program, modeled on King County's Treehouse mentoring program for foster youth, expands the availability of education-focused mentoring to foster youth in all regions of the state. The report reviews the background of the program, describes the program, discusses implementation issues experienced in the first 18 months of the program, and suggests potential program modifications. (July 2008)

Teleconferences, Webinars, and Webcasts

  • True Colors- Building Connections between Youth in Care and Mentors
    In this free NRCPFC webcast, NRCPFC staff, Tracy Serdjenian and Benjamin Muhammad, talk with Robin McHaelen, True Colors Executive Director, and Christopher Armstrong and Hiram Ortiz, a mentor/mentee pair from the True Colors Mentoring Program.  They discuss programmatic mentorship as an opportunity for a youth in care to develop a positive, caring relationship with an adult who can offer support, guidance, encouragement, and connectedness.  They also talk about the development and approach of the True Colors mentoring program, including how the program works with and prepares mentors. (February 15, 2012)


    MENTOR is the home of the National Mentoring Institute and the Institute for Public Policy and State Affairs. Together, they provide the resources, tools and advocacy the mentoring movement needs to expand and meet America's mentoring needs. The National Mentoring Institute is MENTOR's resource arm. It offers a wealth of products and services to the entire mentoring field. The institute offers research, online training for mentors and mentees, community forums, products and a myriad of resources. It also houses the National Mentoring Database, the nation's most comprehensive source of information about more than 4,100 mentoring programs across the country.
  • Mentoring USA
    Mentoring USA's mission is to create sustained and supportive mentor relationships for children in need ages 7-21. The program matches youth across the country with inspirational adult mentors who can guide them in developing better self-esteem, creating healthy relationships, and making positive life choices. Mentoring USA also offers foster care and English language learning mentoring.
  • National Mentoring Center
    The National Mentoring Center is a project of the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, created and funded primarily by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).


Last updated 4/22/14