One out of every three young people don’t have a trusted adult whom they believe they can turn to for advice and guidance outside of their family home. Mentoring gives young people access to caring, stable adults and as a result they are more likely to see improved academic, social and and economic prospects. Research shows that youths who have been mentored are 55% more likely to enroll in college and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions!
A mentor’s role is to listen deeply to what the youth is expressing and reflect what they hear while drawing out positive aspects and the strengths exhibited by the mentee. We ask new mentors to be as present as possible and to listen without judgement. We let them know we are always here to offer support, council and guidance along the way.
National research has shown that mentoring youth increases their 1) self-confidence 2) self-efficacy 3) social connection 4) academic motivation 5) social competence 6) self-expression 7) presence of trusted adult 8) commitment to education. And as these assets are increased, resilience—which mitigates the effects of trauma and stress, and promotes positive growth—increases as well.
Our pre and post tests, administered at the beginning and end of each school year, show statistically significant increases in social competence, commitment to education and academic motivation and a sense that the youth have a trusted adult they can turn to if they need to. Importantly, while youth reported having greater confidence that they could depend on a parent in the post test, there was a great increase in the youth’s belief that there was someone other than a parent who could be called upon in a time of need. Transforming communities through the mentoring of youth.
During a focus group discussion, members of a girls’ circle were asked, “What would schools look like if more kids got to do a circle?”
Here are some of their answers:
“They’d get along better, they’d listen better, they’d care about each other…”
“At first we only liked a few people, but now we have more friends and trust each other”
“Other kids should do mentoring circles, in every school!”
“Boys should do it!”
What high school boys had to say:
“(The circle) helped me tremendously. I’ve been attending for five years. It’s a great place to talk about problems among friends. To not have circle is like not having a place to call home.”
“..it helps with my anxiety and depression.”
“Sometimes listening to people and talking about our problems helps everyone.”
A male mentor recently made this report:
“The boys are getting a deeper appreciation for the dynamics of this group; specifically speaking the truth and being authentic.”
A mother whose son had individual mentoring said this:
“We feel satisfied! We hoped for a healthy, balanced role model with shared interests and found just that!”
Her son’s assessment:
“I liked having someone to get to talk to about anything.” The thing he liked best was “getting to have a male figure in my life.”