Mentoring works miracles, even in the most challenged young people’s lives. By mobilizing a visible force of men and women committed to mentoring our under-resourced children struggling along the margins, we can ensure that our children know their proud history and heritage; avoid gangs, addictions and incarceration, and graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college, work and life.
Research on mentoring shows that when structured well, mentoring is a simple, low-cost solution to the massive social problems ruining young people’s lives in poor communities coast to coast. Mentoring is an investment that has consistently shown a comparatively high rate of positive returns. Inner-city youngsters who had a year-long relationship with a mentor achieved the following:
- 52 percent decrease in absenteeism;
- 46 percent decrease in first-time drug use;
- 33 percent decrease in violent behavior.
(Werner, E. E., 2000. “Protective Factors and Individual Resilience,” in R. Meisells & J. Shonkoff (Eds.), Handbook of Early Intervention (pp. 115-1320). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)
Even more persuasive were the results of a study by the California Mentor Foundation. They surveyed 124 mentoring programs, which matched a total of 36,251 mentors with 57,659 mentees, and found:
- 98 percent of the young people matched with mentors stayed in school;
- 98 percent of those matched with mentors avoided a teen pregnancy;
- 85 percent of youngsters who had a mentor did not use drugs;
- 98 percent of the youngsters matched with mentors avoided gang participation.
The literature is replete with studies that associate mentoring with a wide range of favorable outcomes. According to numerous studies—including Does Mentoring Matter? by Lillian T. Eby, et al.—even when mentoring is the sole or primary form of intervention it:
- Helps students develop a positive attitude toward the activities they engage in with their mentors, including activities associated with schoolwork;
- Contributes to learning and skills development;
- Increases motivation and results in improved attitudes;
- Enhances interpersonal relationships;
- Helps mentees stay focused on tasks rather than unnecessary activities;
- Influences career outcomes by facilitating professional networking and introducing mentees to career contacts.
Studies have shown that the biggest beneficiaries of mentoring programs are youngsters who are under-resourced and have environmental risk factors. According to David L. DuBois, et al., in Effectiveness of Mentoring Programs for Youth, mentoring is significantly correlated with a variety of positive outcomes and enhanced when strong relationships are formed between mentor and mentee. Findings by the National Research Council Institute of Medicine of the National Academies show that for students who enter an educational environment with low skills, mentoring provides the tutoring needed to develop their skills and confidence. Mentoring programs provide academic support in non-punitive ways that foster feelings of competence and the desire to engage in intellectual work.
The Atlanta CARES Mentoring Movement is committed to continuing our efforts to salvage the lives of our underserved and under resourced youth through mentoring. Out motto, “Mentor a Child and Save a Life” underscores our mantra: “We Are Recruiting Mentors to Save a Generation.”