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How Do “Credible Messenger” Mentors Promote Youth Development? A Retrospective, Longitudinal Study in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Houston

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $651,522)

The proposed retrospective, quasi-experimental longitudinal study is designed to identify the change mechanisms through which “Credible Messenger” (CM) mentoring programs can promote positive youth development and facilitate youth healing in structurally marginalized, justice-impacted, and predominantly Black and Latinx communities. The overarching goal of this study is to expand the limited research on the impact of CM mentoring for the most marginalized and high-risk youth.

Using a participatory approach with a positive youth development lens, the applicant researchers will work with Community Research Teams (CRTs) in three U.S. metropolitan areas to collaboratively develop quantitative and qualitative data collection instruments, including a computerized life event calendar that retrospectively captures 3 years of longitudinal outcome data for youth (about half of whom received CM mentoring and half who did not), as well as semi-structured interview and focus group instruments. The study will use a matched case-control design whose purpose is to address NIJ Research Priority 2 by clarifying ways in which CM mentoring promotes positive youth development and Research Priority 3 by examining longer term effects of CM mentoring. Additionally, the team will train CRTs in research evaluation to collaboratively strengthen each programs’ capacity for performance evaluation.

The proposed study has four objectives: 1) integrate a community participatory approach that encourages meaningful research dialogue and strengthens the community research capacity of CM programs moving forward; 2) conduct a deep dive into the mechanisms by which CM mentoring can promote positive youth development and improve young people’s behavioral outcomes, while accounting for structural systems of oppression affecting their daily lives; 3) assess the quasi-experimental impact of CM mentoring programs in three racially and ethnically diverse U.S. communities by comparing youth outcomes over a period of 36 months, measured retrospectively; and 4) report and disseminate findings broadly to reach CM mentoring programs, youth community service providers, juvenile justice advocates, and research and practice audiences working to reduce the justice impact on historically marginalized youth. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 8, 2022