Effective youth mentoring has the power to transform lives. For nearly 30 years, OJJDP has supported efforts to increase the opportunities for youth to have mentors and enhance the quality and effectiveness of the mentoring they receive. In fiscal year 2020, the Office awarded nearly $85 million in mentoring grants.
"Successful mentoring relationships have been shown to increase self-esteem, improve academic achievement, and decrease the likelihood of substance abuse and delinquent acts by youth,” said Acting OJJDP Administrator Chyrl Jones in plenary remarks at the 2021 National Mentoring Summit.
Hosted by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, the annual summit brings together practitioners, researchers, government and civic leaders, and youth to strengthen programs and practices, and collaborate to support positive youth development through mentoring. This year’s virtual summit took place on January 27–29, 2021; more than 2,800 people attended.
“You help young Americans find a purpose and a positive path through mentoring. Your work is noble. Your results are tangible. Your impact is undeniable.”
—Chyrl Jones, Acting OJJDP Administrator
Prior to the summit, OJJDP hosted a series of virtual training sessions on federal grant requirements, best-practice standards, and available resources for new mentoring grantees. One of the sessions focused on training and technical assistance offered by OJJDP’s National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC). Guided by a board of nationally renowned mentoring researchers, the center offers comprehensive resources, evidence-based practices, tools, and research to improve the quality and effectiveness of youth mentoring. Its services are available at no cost to all youth mentoring providers.
The past year has been challenging for the mentoring field, forcing local programs to find ways to sustain connections between mentors and mentees amid a global pandemic. As practitioners scrambled to shift their programming to virtual platforms, NMRC found its services were needed more than ever. In fiscal year 2020, the center recorded its highest number of requests for assistance and delivered a record 13,742 hours of technical support in response to the requests. “[Their] ideas and suggestions were ideal for us and [their] willingness to assist with implementation was fantastic,” said a recent training and technical assistance recipient from Pennsylvania.
In March, NMRC will hold its fourth annual Youth Mentoring Research Symposium. The 2-day virtual event will focus on juvenile justice-related outcomes and explore youth mentoring research that examines the impact of mentors on the criminality and delinquency of young people. Breakout sessions will cover topics such as strategies for working with juvenile arrest records, conducting return-on-investment analyses, and the value of qualitative research to understand the pathways by which mentors can influence delinquent behavior.
The NMRC website also includes a page of tools, programs, and training materials for mentoring programs navigating COVID-19.