Young People Link Mentoring to Significant Life Outcomes

WASHINGTON, DC – 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).

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Leading the Charge Locally

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.  The Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership has been advancing mentoring in our region since 1990.  “We’re excited about the findings of this new report because they affirm the work that is being done right here in our own community,” says Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership President and CEO, Jo-Ann Schofield.  “We know that local youth who have a mentor do better in school, have a better chance of avoiding some of the challenges young people face today, and are more likely to become a social asset as opposed to an economic liability.  Mentoring is on the rise on a local and national scale and we’re proud to be a part of this movement to connect young people with caring adults.”

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.

For the full report, or more information on key findings, please visit

 About The Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership

RIMP is the statewide leader in youth mentoring.  Our mission is to enhance the lives of Rhode Island youth through mentoring.  Our philosophy is simple: when we invest today in expanding our community’s capacity to mentor our youth, we will see an incredible return in the lives of our children and the health of our communities for generations to come.  RIMP serves as an umbrella organization for more than 60 mentoring programs around Rhode Island offering help with recruitment, training, and other support.  RIMP is also directly responsible for the coordination of the school-based mentoring programs in Warwick, Woonsocket, Newport, and Middletown.  Please contact RIMP at 401.732.7700 or visit to learn more about becoming a mentor.

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. 

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