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 $956 million in grants to mentoring organizations from FY 2008 to FY 2019. From 2017 through the first half of 2019, OJJDP-funded programs recruited 95,000 new mentors and served more than 600,000 youth nationwide.
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 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.
Together with its partners, OJJDP is working on boost mentor recruitment, enhance mentor-mentee matches, and increase the number of youth who have mentors.
Programs and Funding
OJJDP's Programmatic Initiatives in Mentoring
Through federal funding, OJJDP supports 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 and Sexual Exploitation
- 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
OJJDP also supports the National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC).
2019 Mentoring Opportunities for Youth – 33 awards made totaling $81.1 million
- Category 1 – 6 awards for a total of $49 million
- Category 2 – 7 awards for a total of $19.2 million
- Category 3 – 6 awards for a total of $3 million
- Category 4 – 10 awards for a total of $5 million
- Category 5 – 4 awards for a total of $5 million
CSEC Mentoring – 9 awards totaling $4 million (combination of Mentoring and MEC funds)
National Mentoring Resource Center – $2 million (TTA)
Training and Technical Assistance
National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC)
The goal of the OJJDP-funded National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), created in partnership with the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR). 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.
From the Field
The National 4-H Council is one of the many mentoring programs OJJDP supports. Clyde Van Dyke, winner of the 2019 4-H Youth in Action Award, shared how the club empowered him to overcome personal challenges, including a lack of role models for educational success.
"Because of 4-H and the adults who have supported me, I'm not a dropout," he says proudly. "[I'm in college] to pursue a career in digital forensics – a path I never would have discovered with 4-H."
Through the 4-H Club, Mr. Van Dyke learned how to create maps to visualize data, a technique known as "geospatial mapping". He now uses geospatial mapping to help communities better understand the prevalence, trends, and contributing factors to critical issues such as the opioid epidemic. Mr. Van Dyke is also giving back by mentoring young people in elementary schools near his hometown.
Training and Technical Assistance Contact
National Mentoring Resource Center
Following are OJJDP research and evaluation initiatives generated the following related publications, links and products.
OJJDP-Produced, April 2020.
Mentoring Best Practices Research: Effectiveness of Juvenile Mentoring Programs on Recidivism
OJJDP-Sponsored, November 2017.
Abstract | PDF (Research in Brief) | PDF (Full Report) | Mentoring Best Practices Research
Prediction and Prevention of Premature Closures of Mentoring Relationships: The Study To Analyze Relationships (STAR Project)
OJJDP-Sponsored, January 2018.
PDF (Full Report) | PDF (Research in Brief)
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.
Mentoring Research Partners Program
This program supported researchers who sought to partner with OJJDP-funded mentoring organizations to conduct program-specific data collection and evaluation and improve mentoring organizations' ability to collect and analyze program-specific data and measures about the delivery and impact of their mentoring services.
High-Risk Youth Mentoring Research
The High-Risk Youth Mentoring Research program supported research and evaluations to further examine how certain characteristics, components, and practices of mentoring programs could best support youth who are at particularly high risk for delinquency.
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.