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OJJDP's mentoring work aims to both increase opportunities for youth to have mentors and improve the quality and impact of the mentoring they receive.


Youth mentoring - a consistent, prosocial relationship between an adult or older peer and one or more youth - can help support the positive development of youth. Mentoring has been shown to improve self-esteem, academic achievement, and peer relationships and reduce drug use, aggression, depressive symptoms, and delinquent acts. Many young people have access to mentors (both naturally occurring and program supported); however, many more do not. In addition, there continues to be documented variation in both the quality of mentoring and its impact on youth outcomes.

OJJDP has long supported mentoring programs, awarding more than $834 million in grants to mentoring organizations from FY 2008 to FY 2017. OJJDP's mentoring work aims to both increase opportunities for youth to have mentors and improve the quality and impact of the mentoring they receive. Through its research, programmatic grants, training and technical assistance, and publications, OJJDP provides financial incentives and national leadership to support the delivery of high quality mentoring to a diverse and growing population of youth. The OJJDP National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) has been developed as a key research and practice resource for the mentoring field.

Programs and Funding

OJJDP's Programmatic Initiatives in Mentoring

On an annual basis, OJJDP uses appropriated federal funds to support a variety of mentoring approaches. OJJDP's mentoring work focuses on expanding the use of research-informed enhancements to mentoring programs as well as providing mentoring services to underserved and at-risk populations of youth.

A few of OJJDP's recent programmatic mentoring initiatives include:

  • Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative
  • Specialized Services and Mentoring for Child and Youth Victims of Sex Trafficking
  • Second Chance Act Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents with Minor Children

OJJDP also supports demonstration programs and practitioner-researcher partnerships to further promote and study the integration of evidence-based mentoring practices. Current initiatives include:

  • Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program
  • A Longitudinal Study of a Mentoring and Skills Group Intervention for Maltreated Youth
  • Practitioner-Researcher Partnership Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Demonstration Program
  • Practitioner-Researcher Partnership in Cognitive Behavioral Mentoring Program

OJJDP also supports the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) and other research initiatives.

2018 Mentoring Opportunities for Youth – 36 awards made totaling $77 million

  • Category 1 – 6 awards for a total of $44 million
  • Category 2 – 9 awards for a total of $19.2 million
  • Category 3 – 9 awards for a total of $4.4 million
  • Category 4 – 7 awards for a total of $3.5 million
  • Category 5 – 5 awards for a total of $6.3 million

CSEC Mentoring – 3 awards totaling $1.3 million (combination of Mentoring and MEC funds)
National Mentoring Resource Center – $2 million (TTA)
Research – $3 million

  • Mentoring Research Partners Program – one award of $289,512
  • Practitioner-Researcher Partnership in Cognitive Behavioral Mentoring Program – four awards (2 research/evaluation and 2 program) totaling nearly $3 million

Research and Evaluation

OJJDP's Research and Evaluation Initiatives in Mentoring

In addition to supporting a variety of programmatic approaches that emphasize the use of mentoring research, OJJDP has focused on translating mentoring research to practice through a three prong strategy that includes disseminating information about evidence-based and research-informed mentoring practices, more strategically and effectively integrating research into mentoring practice, and supporting ongoing evaluation and assessments of innovative mentoring approaches.

Disseminating evidence-based mentoring resources: OJJDP's National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) includes a Research Board that oversees the development of the tools and resources in the "What Works" section and guides the training and technical assistance approach.

Integrating research into mentoring practice: OJJDP has supported three demonstration mentoring programs that promote practitioner-researcher partnerships and match innovative programmatic designing with ongoing evaluation. This includes:

  • Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program
  • Practitioner-Researcher Partnership Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents Demonstration Program
  • Practitioner-Researcher Partnership in Cognitive Behavioral Mentoring Program
  • Mentoring Research Partners Program

Evaluation of innovative mentoring approaches: OJJDP has supported investigator-initiated evaluation and research to better understand what works in mentoring and the underlying practices or mechanisms of these approaches. This includes:

Training and Technical Assistance

National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC)
In January 2015, OJJDP officially launched the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) in partnership with the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR). The goal of the NMRC is to improve the quality and effectiveness of youth mentoring across the country through increased use of evidence-based practices and sharing practitioner innovations.

The NMRC is comprised of three components:

  • Comprehensive Website – this website features quality resources for the youth mentoring field, including a wealth of evidence-based reviews, resources, and links to additional reading that can support practitioners, researchers and policymakers in evaluating and improving practice, understanding best practices in mentoring and supporting decisions related to the development, funding, and evaluation of youth mentoring initiatives.
  • Research Board – this board's primary role is to assess and report on the evidence that bears on the effectiveness of different mentoring programs, practices, and resources that are intended to promote positive youth outcomes, particularly those relating to prevention of delinquent behavior, victimization and juvenile justice system involvement.
  • Training and Technical Assistance – this no-cost assistance that is aligned to evidence-based practices can be accessed through the website; it is available to OJJDP mentoring grantees and communities or organizations without an OJJDP grant. Requests for training and technical assistance can be made directly through NMRC's website.


OJJDP Contact

Kristen Kracke
Program Manager
Programmatic Contact
[email protected]

Training and Technical Assistance Contact

National Mentoring Resource Center
Website: https://nationalmentoringresourcecenter.org


OJJDP Publications

Associations between Parental Characteristics, Attitudes, and Engagement on Mentoring Relationship Outcomes
OJJDP-Sponsored, November 2017. Researchers at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation conducted this study in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana to investigate whether three types of parent/guardian mentoring variables (parent/family characteristics, parent engagement in the match, and parenting style) influence match quality, match length, and youth program outcomes.
PDF (Final Report) | PDF (Research in Brief)

Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program
OJJDP-Sponsored, April 2018. The study was designed as a comparative effectiveness trial examining enhancements to mentoring—where mentors were asked to incorporate advocacy and teaching functions into their roles and programs provided training and additional ongoing support around the advocacy and teaching functions—relative to business-as-usual mentoring (based on the programs' pre-existing model).
PDF (Technical Report) | PDF (Appendices)

Extending a Randomized Trial of the My Life Mentoring Model for Youth in Foster Care To Evaluate Long-Term Effects on Offending in Young Adulthood
OJJDP-Sponsored, January 2018. The My Life weekly mentoring model uses individual and group mentoring strategies to improve outcomes as youth transition from foster care. Weekly mentoring was effective for reducing criminal justice involvement among males and among those who were not receiving developmental disability services prior to intervention. 49 pages. NCJ 251418.
Abstract | PDF

Group Mentoring for Resilience: Increasing Positive Development and Reducing Involvement in the Juvenile Justice System
OJJDP-Sponsored, July 2018. This "Mentoring Best Practices" project investigated the effectiveness of group mentoring as an intervention strategy for improving developmental outcomes among youth at risk for juvenile justice system involvement and produced an operations manual that can facilitate effective replication of the Project Arrive model. The evaluation data revealed positive effects of participation for several resilience assets and reducing academic risk factors. 94 pages. NCJ 252131.
Abstract | PDF

Investigation of Long-Term Effects of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Community-Based Mentoring Program: Final Technical Report for OJJDP
OJJDP-Sponsored, January 2018. In analyses utilizing adult survey data, retrospective reports of a high-quality mentoring relationship (i.e., one year or longer with relatively strong feelings of closeness toward the mentor) approached or reached statistical significance in predicting a lower likelihood of arrest as a juvenile, fewer reports of stealing during adulthood, more favorable reported levels of emotional, psychological and social well-being, and less alcohol use during adulthood. 55 pages. NCJ 251521.
Abstract | PDF

Mentoring for Youth With Disabilities
OJJDP-Sponsored, October 2018. This review examined research on mentoring for youth (ages 25 and younger) who have a disability, including physical, cognitive, learning, and developmental disabilities, and excluding psychiatric disabilities which have been discussed elsewhere. The review concludes with insights for practitioners that highlight a number of factors to consider when developing and implementing mentoring programs for youth with disabilities. 26 pages. NCJ 252269.
Abstract | PDF | HTML

Prediction and Prevention of Premature Closures of Mentoring Relationships: The Study To Analyze Relationships (STAR Project)
OJJDP-Sponsored, January 2018. The goal of the Study To Analyze Relationships (STAR), is to understand how multiple program participants (mentor, mentee, parent/guardian, and program staff member) individually and collectively contribute to the development and duration of a new mentoring relationship. The STAR study assesses mentor, mentee, and parent/guardian characteristics, circumstances, and motivations prior to matching so that we can use this information to predict which relationships ultimately fare better than others.
PDF (Full Report) | PDF (Research in Brief)

Synthesis of OJJDP-sponsored Mentoring Research
OJJDP-Sponsored, September 2018. The report gives a summary, overview and analysis of the 24 original research projects funded by OJJDP and completed to-date. The report also includes a summary of the research-related work and products through the National Mentoring Resource Center. 65 pages. NCJ 252166.
Abstract | PDF


Changing Minds
Find out how a supportive, caring adult in a child's life could be an important factor in helping them overcome the effects of childhood trauma.

OJJDP National Mentoring Resource Center
This comprehensive online resource provides mentoring tools and information, program and training materials, and technical assistance to help local programs and practitioners improve the quality and effectiveness of their mentoring efforts.

OJJDP's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
OJJDP's MPG contains information about evidence-based juvenile justice and youth prevention, intervention, and reentry programs. It is a resource for practitioners and communities about what works, what is promising, and what does not work in juvenile justice, delinquency prevention, and child protection and safety.

CrimeSolutions.gov: Mentoring Practice Profile
This resource provides findings from rigorous evaluation research syntheses in mentoring. Mentoring, as a general practice, has demonstrated positive impacts across a variety of delinquency, education, mental health, and substance abuse outcomes.

Other Resources

Related Research Publications:

OJJDP-Funded Mentoring Publications: OJJDP-funded mentoring publications are archived on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service website.

Handbook of Youth Mentoring: This updated Second Edition of the Handbook of Youth Mentoring presents a comprehensive synthesis of current theory, research, and practice in the field of youth mentoring.

Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring: MENTOR's cornerstone publication, the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, details research-informed and practitioner-approved Standards for creating and sustaining quality youth mentoring programs and consequently, impactful mentoring relationships. The Fourth Edition, released in September 2015, reflects the most up-to-date research, practice, and thinking in the mentoring field.

The Mentoring Effect: Commissioned by MENTOR, this report shares the findings from the first nationally representative survey of young people's perspectives on mentoring.

Center for Evidence-based Mentoring: At the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Center seeks to advance the production, dissemination, and uptake of evidence-based practice in ways that improve the effectiveness of practice and, ultimately, create stronger, more enduring mentor-mentee relationships.

Other Federal Resources:

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): Mentoring Resources: Caring and committed mentors give young people the extra boost they need to achieve success. Mentoring is an effective way to engage individuals in meaningful service experiences and to develop and strengthen positive connections with families, schools, and the community. CNCS includes resources for mentors and mentoring programs.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): Become a Mentor: This website highlights the importance of becoming involved in mentoring activities.

Youth.gov: Mentoring: Youth.gov (formerly FindYouthInfo.gov) was created by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP), which is composed of representatives from 19 federal agencies that support programs and services focusing on youth. The IWGYP promotes the goal of positive, healthy outcomes for youth. There is also a related OJJDP-funded topical page about serving Children of Incarcerated Parents.

Department of Labor: Office of Disability Employment Policy: Career-focused mentoring provides young people the opportunity to get a glimpse of the world of work that may not otherwise be available to them. It also allows them to gain and practice skills that are useful in professional and other settings, and to prepare for life as an adult.