Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Mentoring Effect Report: Definitions

Defining methodology and terms:


The Mentoring Effect: Young People’s Perspectives on the Outcomes and Availability of Mentoring was commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership with support from AT&T, and written by Civic Enterprises in partnership with Hart Research. This report is informed by the first-ever nationally representative survey of 1,109 young people on the topic of mentoring, as well as a literature and landscape review with insight from a variety of experts from the mentoring and youth development field.


A nationally representative survey was conducted by Hart Research Associates. A total of 1,109 young adults ages 18 to 21 participated in this survey in July and August 2013. To reach out broadly to this highly mobile and technologically savvy group, young adults were contacted and interviewed in three ways: by telephone (landline and cell phone), online, and through in-person interviews. The in-person interviews were conducted with 102 “at-risk” young adults, who tend to be more difficult to reach using traditional survey methods. To reach this highly mobile group, researchers conducted the in-person interviews at 10 diverse locations in four regions across the United States. None of the “at-risk” young adults interviewed in-person completed a college degree. Slight weights were applied to ensure that the sample matched characteristics of young adults in the United States. We are confident that the survey sample, once weighted, represents a true national sample of young adults ages 18 to 21.

At-Risk Youth

There is no field consensus for what factors make a youth “at-risk.” For purposes of this survey, an at-risk youth is a respondent who is, at the time of taking the survey, disconnected (out of school and out of work) and/or has experienced any of the risk factors reflected in the survey screening tool that have been identified as barriers for achieving economic and social mobility. This term was not defined for survey respondents. Respondents were asked if they experienced these conditions (risk factors) when they were in middle or high school:

  • Incarcerated parent or guardian
  • Regular absenteeism
  • Poor academic performance
  • Behavioral problems in school
  • Delinquency
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Homelessness


Informal/Unstructured v. Formal/Structured Mentoring

The survey considered two different types of mentoring relationships and defined these terms for survey respondents. In both structured and informal mentoring relationships, the adult is supportive and works with the young person to build a relationship by offering guidance, support, and encouragement to help the young person's positive and healthy development over a period of time.”

Informal/Unstructured: In this type of mentoring an adult comes into a young person's life and they naturally develop an informal mentoring relationship. The adult could be a friend of the family or a teacher with whom the young person maintains a relationship outside of the classroom.

Formal/Structured: In this type of mentoring an organization like a school, a community group, or a faith-based organization matches an adult with a young person with whom they develop a relationship in a structured manner through regular meetings and activities. An example of a structured mentoring program is Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Ret. 2-14-14

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