Supportive, healthy relationships formed between mentors and mentees contribute to a host of benefits for mentors and mentees.
“Over the past 14 years I have witnessed almost 500 girls graduate the SISTER2sister program. During this time I’ve seen an significant increase in high school graduation rates, lower school drop outs, healthier relationships and lifestyle choices and a better attitude about school. I have lost count of the hundreds of girls who had little or no aspiration to finish school who are now the first in their family to do so. Our mentors are incredible women who without a doubt play a huge contributing factor in the success of these vulnerable girls. SISTER2sister has proven time and time again that it only takes one person to change another person’s life.”
JESSICA BROWN Founder and CEO of Life Changing Experiences Foundation
Benefits for youth:
- Increased high school graduation rates
- Lower high school dropout rates
- Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
- Better attitude about school
- Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations
- Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improved behavior, both at home and at school
- Stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers
- Improved interpersonal skills
- Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use (MENTOR, 2009; Cavell, DuBois, Karcher, Keller, & Rhodes, 2009)
Potential Educational Benefits
Better academic performance. A 1995 study of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program found mentored youth earned higher grades than a similar group of young people who did not have mentors (Tierny, Grossman, & Resch, 1995). Further, the 2007 study of the program found youth in school-based mentoring programs turned in higher quality class work, did better academically (especially in science and written and oral communication), and completed more of their assignments than their peers who did not have mentors. These results, while positive, were small in magnitude and did not last into the following school year (Herrera, Grossman, Kauh, Feldman, McMaken, & Jucovy, 2007). While a trend toward improved academic performance has been found through research on mentoring programs, Jekielek, Moore and Hair (2002) indicate that studies of mentoring programs do not show consistent improved academic outcomes.
Better school attendance. Youth with mentors had fewer unexcused absences from class than students without mentors (Tierny, Grossman, Resch, 2000; Herrera, Grossman, Kauh, Feldman, McMaken, & Jucovy, 2007). For example, youth participating in the Across Ages mentoring program showed a gain of more than a week of classes attended, compared with those youth not participating in the program (Jekielek et al., 2002).
Positive attitudes. Teachers of students in the BELONG mentoring program reported that students participating in mentoring were more engaged in the classroom and also seemed to place a higher value on school than students who did not have mentors (Blakely, Menon, & Jones, 1995).
Potential Behavioral Benefits
Decreased likelihood of initiating illegal drug and alcohol use. A BBBS study showed youth with mentors were less likely to begin using drugs or alcohol during the eighteen-month period of the study than their peers. Specifically, 6.2 percent of youth with mentors initiated drug use compared to 11.4 percent of their peers without mentors, and 19.4 percent initiated alcohol use compared to 26.7 percent. These findings were more substantial for minority youth (Tierny et al., 1995). Findings from a study of the Across Ages mentoring program showed that mentees gained important life skills to help them stay away from drugs (LoSciuto, Rajala, Townsend, & Taylor, 1996).
Decreased violent behavior. Mentees in the BBBS program were 32 percent less likely to report having hit someone over the past year than the young people without mentors (Tierny et al., 1995). Jekielek et al. (2002) found that four mentoring programs showed reductions of some behaviors related to delinquency and negative behaviors, but did not eliminate all delinquent behaviors.
Other Potential Benefits
Mentoring has also been linked in studies to social-emotional development benefits, improvements in youth perceptions of parental relationships, and better prospects for moving on to higher education.
This section has been adapted from Federal Mentoring Council and Jekielek, Moore, & Hair, 2002.