Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2004, $130,000)
Mentoring has been called one of the fastest ways needy youths are being helped in the nation. The foundation of mentoring rests on relationships built between strangers; on the ability of volunteers and youths who are often from different cultural, racial and economic backgrounds to bond together over time. Mentoring is thus one of the very few activities that may put into practice a social science hypothesis'the contact hypothesis'concerned with reducing the levels of racial, ethnic and income mistrust among various groups in the nation. Studies addressing this hypothesis have shown that when people of different backgrounds get together for sustained periods of time to achieve a common goal, they become more trusting not only of those they have met but more generally of people who are different. Is mentoring helping to provide this needed contribution to our multiethnic society?