Research on Program-based Mentoring Tailored and Responsive to Youth Needs

Mentor kneeling and talking to young boy

AIR’s randomized controlled trial on youth mentoring that concluded in 2018 included more than 2,000 mentor-mentee pairs. We will benefit from this rich dataset to contribute to knowledge of evidence-based mentoring strategies that can guide mentoring programs in their practices.

- Dr. Manolya Tanyu

The practice of youth mentoring has been rated “effective in reducing delinquency outcomes” and “promising in reducing the use of alcohol and drugs, improving school attendance, grades, academic achievement test scores, social skills and peer relationships.”  Yet, these effects are relatively small and many researchers have argued that we need to better understand change mechanisms, those processes that improve youth outcomes.

To help us better understand the change mechanisms in youth mentoring, AIR researchers—in partnership with leading mentoring scholars from Herrera Consulting Group, LLC; Portland State University; and Suffolk University—will examine these questions:

  • Is mentoring more effective when it is tailored to youths' social, emotional, behavioral, and academic needs?
  • Are certain mentoring characteristics more effective than others?

The 18-month study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, uses a rich dataset of close to 2,000 mentor-mentee pairs that were part of a previous study AIR concluded in 2018, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The research findings will be shared through multiple venues to broader audiences including a webinar for diverse stakeholders; a practitioner-oriented resource; two scholar publications in peer-reviewed journal articles; a workshop at the 2024 National Mentoring Summit; and a final research report.