Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,345,348)
Under topic two (evaluation of mentoring programs that serve youth involved in the justice system) of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) solicitation for FY23 Youth Mentoring Research and Evaluation, O-NIJ-2023-171663, the Urban Institute (Urban) proposes a participatory mixed method, policy assessment, and implementation and outcomes evaluation of four geographically and sociopolitically diverse credible messenger (CM) mentoring programs to evaluate political and social factors, program implementation, and immediate and intermediate outcomes for youth whom CMs mentor in three different settings (schools, communities, and detention). Although research supports the benefits of CM mentoring on youth, most mentoring occurs in the community (such as community centers and neighborhoods). Increasingly, CM mentors mentor youth in other settings such as schools, detention facilities, and shelters, including youth who have not yet had contact with the juvenile justice system. As the Credible Messenger Movement expands into more fields and populations, research is needed to understand the necessary social and political factors for successful CM mentoring programs in localities, best practices for CM mentoring in different settings, and the impacts of CMs on youth. To fill this gap, Urban proposes to conduct a cross-site study of programs that offer CM mentoring in a range of settings for various youth, with interviews, focus groups, computerized life event calendar, surveys, and a quasi-experimental matched-case design to compare program implementation and outcomes between similar youth who did and did not participate in a CM mentoring program. Urban’s proposed multidisciplinary team and its partners are well poised to conduct such a study and to disseminate comprehensive and understandable products to diverse audiences to apply this information across the U.S.
This study will expand the limited body of rigorous research regarding the implementation and impact of CM mentors. The proposed study has four objectives: 1) identify social and political factors that support CM mentoring; 2) investigate the implementation of CM mentoring programs in three settings (schools, community, and detention centers); 3) understand immediate and intermediate-term system outcomes (e.g., juvenile justice, child welfare, education) and positive youth development outcomes (e.g., competence, confidence, connection, caring and character) of CM mentoring across these settings and different youth characteristics and needs; and 4) provide ongoing informational products through intensive dissemination on project methods and findings targeted to policymakers, system leaders, practitioners, researchers, and communities. CA/NCF