What is Mentoring

A mentor is a trusted guide and friend, someone who offers guidance and support to a less experienced individual. This can occur in a variety of contexts; most people have been an informal mentor to someone at one time or another and may not have even realized it.

Informal or natural mentoring is wonderful when it happens, but the problem is that it doesn’t occur often enough… nor is it foolproof. This is why structured mentoring programs are so valuable. In an intentional mentoring effort, staff works diligently to recruit and match mentors and mentees together, and to screen, train and support all participants. Program-supported mentoring results in more matches being made, mentors and mentees meeting more frequently with better-quality interactions, and matches enduring over longer periods of time. Most importantly, structured mentoring results in safer mentoring relationships.

In addition to traditional one-to-one mentoring, other mentoring models have definite advantages. Group mentoring uses the power of the milieu (positive peer influence), and it serves more mentees more quickly, and with less mentors--it is therefore less costly than one-to-one.

There are also a number of interest-specific types of mentoring initiatives. To point out just a few, these include career-based and workplace, STEM and STEAM, sports-centered, mentoring for foster and other system involved youth, and academic (e.g. tutor/mentor) programs.There are also mentoring efforts that serve juveniles and adults re-entering society after incarceration. Whatever the model, a program can help to develop successful relationships by creating a safe setting where mentees feel that they can be real and open up to their mentors.

CMP’s primary focus is on youth mentoring; however, we also have expertise working with adult mentoring programs, and even combination/tiered mentoring efforts (for example, when more seasoned employees mentor new employees, who in turn provide mentoring to youth mentees).

The Value of Quality Mentoring

Mentoring: A Powerful Strategy to Empower Youth

Mentors for young people:

  1. Provide a caring adult who can lend a listening ear.
  2. Assist young people in developing their social and emotional skills.
  3. Help mentees to navigate daily challenges.
  4. Improve a youth’s attitude towards parents, teachers and peers.
  5. Focus on the importance of education and highlight career path options.

Research has shown that quality mentoring can have positive effects on youth. Benefits demonstrated in Jekielek, Moore, Hair, & Scarupa, 2002 include:

Educational Achievement

  1. Better attendance.
  2. Better chance of going on to higher education.
  3. Better attitudes toward school.

Health and Safety

  1. Promise in the prevention of substance abuse.
  2. Better chance of going on to higher education.
  3. Evidence of the reduction of a number of unhealthy behaviors (such as violence and other “acting out” behaviors).

Social and Emotional Behaviors

  1. Promotion of positive social attitudes.

Despite these benefits, one in three young people nationwide grow up without the support of at least one positive mentor in their lives. In California in 2016, there were more than OUR NUMBER youth on waiting lists for mentoring programs.

Best Practices Matter!

Despite these benefits, one in three young people nationwide grow up without the support of at least one positive mentor in their lives. In California Research also shows that youth mentoring outcomes are best when matches last and are of high quality (Jekielek, Moore, Hair, & Scarupa, 2002; Dubois). Mentoring programs benefit from support and training in order to meet recommended best practices in the field.

For more insights on the benefits of youth mentoring, the need for additional mentors nationwide and here in California, and the value of having a statewide support system to improve and expand mentoring, check out these additional resources below:

Snapshot: Youth Mentoring CA 2016
The Mentoring Effect
The Power of Relationships