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With a Mentor, Young People are...

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Young people with a mentor are...

So, what is a mentor?

Mentors are caring adults who provide emotional support, encouragement, and friendship to a young person. Many of us have had a teacher, supervisor, or coach who made a positive difference in our lives. Those people wore many hats, acting as delegators, role models, advocates, and friends. Mentors assume these different roles during the course of a relationship and share some basic qualities: • A sincere desire to be involved with a young person • Respect for young people • Active listening skills • Empathy • Ability to see solutions and opportunities • Flexibility Mentoring relationships are a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Above all, a good mentor is willing to take the time to get to know their mentee and learn new things that are important to the young person.

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High levels of absenteeism is one of the early warning indicators that a student may be falling off-track (Kennelly & Monrad, 2007). The NYC Task Force on Chronic Absenteeism tackled several strategies to improve attendance at task force schools.

The single most effective action was creating the Success Mentor Corps. MENTOR New York provided training and technical assistance to many of the mentors, especially internal staff within school buildings. The attendance of some students rose an entire month — students staying in homeless shelters were 31% less likely to be chronically absent.


The battle to fight Chronic Absenteeism has been taken up nationally. The White House is encouraging youth-serving organizations to take on this challenge and move the needle on school attendance and graduation.

Daily Life

By being a consistent adult presence in a young person’s life, mentors can offer advice, share life their experiences, and help a young person navigate challenges.


A study showed that the strongest benefit from mentoring, and most consistent across risk groups, was a reduction in depressive symptoms — particularly noteworthy given that almost one in four youth reported worrisome levels of these symptoms at baseline. (The Role of Risk, 2013)


Mentoring also promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them. (The Role of Risk, 2013)


In New York, we have programs that have seen these outcomes in their mentees. In August of 2014, the middle school mentoring program in the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) received amazing evaluations for the success in working with 25 Cornerstone sites in NYC.  


What was especially telling was the fact that when the boys “aged” out of the program, they kept coming anyway in order to be able to see their mentors. In 2016, the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD)'s YMI mentoring programs expanded beyond their 25 Cornerstone sites to close to 66 sites and included youth in high school. In 2018, the program expanded again to include key youth development programs in their portfolio within the NYC Public Schools to infuse mentoring best practices in order to ensure that more NYC middle and high school youth were engaged in mentoring relationships.



One study estimates that the human potential lost as a result of the educational achievement gap is the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. By preparing young people for college and careers, mentoring helps develop the future workplace talent pipeline (Mentoring: At the crossroads of education, business and community, 2015). Mentors can also prepare their mentees for professional careers and assist with their workplace skills by:

  • Helping set career goals and taking the steps to realize them.

  • Using personal contacts to help young people network with industry professionals, find internships, and locate possible jobs.

  • Introduce young people to resources and organizations they may not be familiar with.

  • Skills for seeking a job, interviewing for a job, and keeping a job.

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