Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $300,000)
This program furthers the Department's mission by enhancing what is understood about mentoring as a prevention and intervention strategy for youth who are at high risk of involvement or involved in the juvenile justice system.
Innovation Research & Training proposes to conduct a follow-up study to evaluate the impact of the Quantum Opportunities Program on high risk youth. Quantum is a long-term, four-year, high school mentoring intervention. As a Category 1 project, the proposed study builds upon the promising findings from a previous randomized controlled trial of the Quantum program. Findings from this previous evaluation suggest positive program impacts on youth, particularly in the areas of improved academic achievement and reductions in risky behaviors. For example, program participants were less likely than control group youth to report being stopped by police or being arrested. This outcome is consistent with reductions in other risky behaviors, as Quantum participants reported fewer instances of breaking school rules at school, participating in fights, and engaging in violence compared to the control group. The proposed study will include quantitative and qualitative measures to evaluate the sustained and possibly delayed impact of program participation on youth outcomes using a linked cross-sectional design. Cohort 1 participants (n = 180) graduated in 2013 and will be assessed at 1.5 and 2 years post-graduation from the program. Cohort 2 (n = 120) graduated in 2014 and will be assessed at .5, 1, 1.5, and 2 years post-graduation from the program. Together, a total of 300 youth aged 19 to 22 who participated in the original Quantum program evaluation study will be asked to participate (150 in the Intervention group; 150 in the Control group). Given the rigor of the original research design, the proposed study will uniquely allow for the evaluation of the impact of intensive mentoring relationships on high risk youth. Impact on postsecondary educational attainment, adult workforce involvement, and rates of incarceration will be assessed. In addition, this project has the potential to translate research findings into concrete recommendations for implementation of long-term mentoring programs working with high risk youth. The goal will be to produce recommendations for effective practices associated with mentor and mentee recruitment; mentor screening; mentor, mentee, and parent training; matching; retention of mentors and mentees; parent engagement; match monitoring; and match closure for long-term mentoring relationships with high risk youth.