Archived: Young People Link Mentoring to Significant Life Outcomes

YOUNG PEOPLE LINK MENTORING TO SIGNIFICANT LIFE OUTCOMES


First-of-its-Kind Survey of Young People Correlates Mentoring Relationships with Positive Aspirations
And Outcomes, Identifies Gap for Those Who Could Benefit Most

WASHINGTON, DC January 13, 2014 Young people experience significant positive life outcomes related to academics, community involvement and leadership, and career development when they are mentored, according to a new report released today. The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring, the first-ever nationally representative survey of young people on the topic of mentoring, examines the mentoring effect on youth, their aspirations and achievements and the community around them; however, it also highlights a substantial mentoring gap that exists in America, especially for at-risk youth.

Commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership with support from AT&T and written by Mary Bruce and John Bridgeland of Civic Enterprises with Hart Research, the report confirms what past research has indicated: quality mentoring relationships provide young people with positive and complementary benefits on a variety of personal, academic and professional factors. However, more than one in three young people an estimated 16 million have never had an adult mentor of any kind while growing up. This includes an estimated 9 million at-risk youth, who are less likely to graduate high school, go on to college and achieve social and economic mobility. Encouragingly, an estimated 4.5 million young people are in a structured mentoring relationship today, an increase from the estimate of 300,000 from the early 1990s.

“Through the voices of young people a singular message comes through loud and clear- that mentoring is linked to their ability to do better in school, their desire to take on leadership roles, and their aspirations and commitment to attend college,” said David Shapiro, CEO, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. “But their experiences also tell us that mentoring is often left to chance and that we will need to integrate mentoring into a myriad of approaches to youth development to ensure all youth who need a mentor have access to one.”

The report draws on conversations with more than 1,100 youth ages 18-21 on the topic of mentoring relationships. It is further informed by a literature and landscape review of several of the nation’s most rigorous research reports on mentoring, and insights from key leaders in business, philanthropy, government, and education. The report outlines young adults’ perspectives on mentoring in three main insight areas:

1. Mentoring’s Connection to Aspirations and Outcomes

Research supports the concept that high-quality mentoring programs are associated with positive outcomes for mentees and young people’s experiences reinforce this association.

  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to aspire to enroll in and graduate from college than those who did not have a mentor (76 percent versus 56 percent).
  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor (45 percent versus 29 percent).
  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who did not have a mentor (67 percent versus 37 percent).
  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to hold a leadership position in a club, sports team, school council, or another group than those who did not have a mentor (51 percent versus 22).
  • At-risk young adults who had a mentor are more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities than those who did not have a mentor (48 percent versus 27).

2. The Value of Mentors

The survey showed that young people also believe mentoring provides them with the support and guidance they need to lead productive lives.

  • Nearly all youth in mentoring relationships found these experiences to be helpful with more than half reporting them as very helpful.
  • Youth report that formal mentoring programs provide a variety of benefits, and most commonly offer that they receive advice about school and get help with school issues and/or schoolwork.
  • Mentees in informal mentoring relationships commonly offer that their mentors provided developmental, more than academic, support.
  • Nearly nine in ten respondents who were mentored report they are interested in becoming mentors; strengthening the earlier finding that mentoring is linked with higher rates of leadership and volunteering.

3. The Availability of Mentors

Despite the body of evidence and the experiences of young people that demonstrate a powerful mentoring effect, a mentoring gap exists that the nation must close.

  • One in three young people reported they never had a mentor while they were growing up. This means approximately 16 million youth, including 9 million at-risk youth, will reach age 19 without ever having a mentor.
  • Youth who struggled with attendance, behavior, and course performance are 10 percentage points less likely to have an informal mentor than those without these risks (57 percent versus 67 percent). Four in five (79 percent) youth with these off-track indicators do not have a structured mentor.

“This nationally representative survey confirms that mentoring can have powerful effects on youth in addressing the nation’s top challenges – the dropout epidemic, boosting college completion rates, and fostering a generation of young people who learn the habits of leadership,” says John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises. “Mentoring must be a core component in our nation’s important work to close the economic mobility gap.”

Paths Forward

Mentors can have a critical impact on the future of America’s youth. Yet, these important connections are too often left to chance, threatening the basic principle that all young people should have the opportunity to achieve social mobility and economic security. With input from industry stakeholders and thought-leaders, the report outlines opportunities to more fully integrate quality mentoring programming into national, state and local initiatives aimed at reducing poverty, truancy, drug abuse and violence, and promoting healthy decision-making, positive behaviors, and strong futures.

“This report is evidence that mentoring has a lasting impact on students. We all know that there are far too many students who lack that positive influence in their lives,” said Charlene Lake, AT&T Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President for Public Affairs. “The business community is in a unique position to have significant impact. Corporate employees all across the nation can fill this need by fostering mentoring relationships that can help set young people up for a lifetime of success.”

Mentoring represents a critical link in the chain of outcomes for our country’s youth that ultimately produces more active citizens and stronger leaders, better schools and healthier communities.

For the full report, or more information on key findings, please visit www.Mentoring.org.

About MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership

MENTOR is the unifying champion for quality youth mentoring in the United States. MENTOR’s mission is to close the “mentoring gap” and ensure our nation’s young people have the support they need through quality mentoring relationships to succeed at home, school, and ultimately, work. To achieve this, MENTOR collaborates with a network of Mentoring Partnerships and works to drive the investment of time and money into high impact mentoring programs and advance quality mentoring through the development and delivery of standards, cutting-edge research, state-of-the-art tools, and a national network of local capacity and movement builders.

About Civic Enterprises

Civic Enterprises is a public policy and strategy firm that helps corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities and governments develop and spearhead innovative public policies to strengthen our communities and country. Created to enlist the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to help address our nation’s toughest problems, Civic Enterprises fashions new initiatives and strategies that achieve measureable results in the fields of education, civic engagement, economic mobility, and many other domestic policy issues. For information about Civic Enterprises, please visit www.civicenterprises.net

About Philanthropy at AT&T

AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its philanthropic initiatives, AT&T has a long history of supporting projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; and address community needs. In 2012, more than $131 million was contributed through corporate-, employee- and AT&T Foundation-giving programs.

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