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A relationship with a mentor can be a valuable resource for young people as they seek guidance during critical moments in their life. Many people have access to mentors, either through their family or community organizations; however, many more do not.

To support youth who face challenges in their adolescent development, research has shown that mentoring programs can improve self-esteem, academic achievement, and peer relationships.

Mentoring services can be one-on-one, peer-to-peer, in a group, or a combination of those types. Diverse in design and implementation, mentoring programs share a common aim of providing young people with structured support from older or more experienced people, such as adult volunteers or students at higher grade levels. Studies suggest that mentoring programs may be enhanced with training and support for mentors, while mentoring relationships that end prematurely can be harmful for youth.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has long supported mentoring programs. Since fiscal year 2008, OJJDP has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to mentoring organizations across the country. OJJDP’s mentoring work aims to both increase opportunities for youth to have mentors and improve the quality and impact of the mentoring they receive.

The National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), a program of OJJDP, helps local programs and practitioners improve the quality and effectiveness of their mentoring efforts. NMRC provides research-informed mentoring tools and information, program and training materials, and technical assistance to mentoring programs nationwide.

OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide contains evaluations of mentoring programs. The guide presents evaluation findings from more than 50 mentoring programs assessed under the National Institute of Justice’s CrimeSolutions research evidence standards, and provides comprehensive reviews of the research literature on mentoring.

Observed every January, National Mentoring Month is a nationwide campaign that aims to recruit mentors and focus national attention on the importance of working together to ensure positive outcomes for youth.

Visit the following pages for additional mentoring information and resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources:

Date Modified: December 23, 2021
Date Created: August 18, 2020