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Positioning Mentors as Social Capital Builders

NCJ Number
Date Published
22 pages

This paper publishes findings of the Positioning Mentors as Social Capital Builders project and confirms the role that mentors can play in social capital development among youth.


Emerging findings from the Positioning Mentors as Social Capital Builder’s project reinforce and confirm that mentors can play a valuable role in supporting youth social capital development. Findings suggest that mentors who are able to form high-quality relationships that are characterized by the five elements of a developmental relationship and who are supportive of their mentee’s racial-ethnic and cultural identity development as well as young people’s ability to connect with others in their web of support are best positioned to support youth in strengthening their social capital. In turn, youth are able to leverage their social capital as they pursue their education, career, and life goals. To better understand how mentors can support youth social capital development, the Positioning Mentors as Social Capital Builder’s project launched in January 2023. With support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the purpose of this study is to (1) unpack the ways mentors and youth build strong relationships with each other especially across lines of racial-ethnic identity differences, (2) gain insight into the ways mentors support youth’s social capital development, and (3) create and test the effectiveness of a mentor-focused toolkit, known as the SoCAP Builder’s Toolkit, to further strengthen and support mentors efforts to support youth social capital. Informed by these learnings, the authors are co-designing a mentor-focused toolkit, known as the SoCAP Builder Toolkit alongside BBBS agency partners. The goal of this toolkit will be to support mentors in intentionally and collaboratively working with youth to foster a positive mentoring relationship across lines of racial-ethnic differences and to promote youth social capital.

Date Published: January 1, 2024