This NIJ Journal article reviews the current state of mentoring research, covering a range of issues involved in evaluating programs’ effectiveness and impact.
Mentoring programs are a prominent strategy for preventing and reducing delinquent behavior among at-risk youth. This NIJ Journal article reviews the current state of mentoring research, covering a range of issues involved in evaluating programs’ effectiveness and impact. With respect to program effectiveness, the article outlines current challenges — such as the need to understand how mentoring relationships actually exert influence on youth outcomes — and potential paths forward, such as using evaluation results to drive continuous improvement. With respect to the population-level impact of mentoring programs, the article discusses challenges such as recruiting enough mentors and evaluating programs across multiple sites. Potential future directions include recruiting mentors from a broader array of backgrounds and providing technical assistance for communities to select the mentoring program best suited to their local needs and resources. The article closes with a call for further research into areas such as mechanisms of change, iterative development, and the long-term effects of mentoring.