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Mentoring

General Colin L. Powell to Headline National Mentoring Month 2010

General Colin L. Powell will headline the 9th Annual National Mentoring Month volunteer recruitment drive. Held each January, the campaign highlights the crucial role played by mentors in helping young people to achieve their potential. This year’s theme is "Expand Your Universe. Mentor a Child."

Girls Mentoring and Education Service

He told her he loved her. He told her he’d give her a job at his recording studio. She was 16, jobless, and living with a friend, so she believed him. She never expected what would happen next: He took her to his house in New Jersey, where she was forced to prostitute herself along with ten other young women.

National Mentoring Month

The connection in mentoring — pairing young people with caring adults — is a youth development strategy that can create a path to successful adulthood for children.

Secretary Duncan Hosts First Meeting with National Council of Young Leaders

The National Council of Young Leaders is a newly established council with a diverse group of young people.  The council, which launched on September 19, has 14 founding members ranging in ages 18-34, representing both urban and rural low- income areas, who advise policy makers, business leaders and foundations on issues affecting low-income youth and their communities.

Youth Speakers Share Their Hopes for the Future

I know now it's not where I'm from; it's where I'm going. It's not what I drive; it's what drives me. It's not what's on me; it's what's in me. And it's not what I think; it's what I know. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. And that's exactly what I plan to do: I will make my own trail and set my own goals. — Chardae Anderson, age 18

October 14, 2009

Positive Youth Development

Positive Experiences + Positive Relationships + Positive Environments = Positive Youth Development

Based on the literature, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, a collaboration of twelve federal departments and agencies that support youth, has created a definition of positive youth development:

Positive youth development is an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances youths' strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

Positive youth development has its origins in the field of prevention. In the past, prevention efforts typically focused on single problems before they surfaced in youth, such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency.

Over time, practitioners, policymakers, funders and researchers determined that promoting positive asset building and considering young people as resources were critical strategies. As a result, the youth development field began examining the role of resiliency—the protective factors in a young person's environment—and how these factors could influence one's ability to overcome adversity. Those factors included, but were not limited to: family support, caring adults, positive peer groups, strong sense of self and self-esteem, and engagement in school and community activities.

Researchers and practitioners began to report that young people possessing a diverse set of protective factors can, in fact, experience more positive outcomes. These findings encouraged the development of interventions and programs that reduced risks and also strengthened protective factors. These programs and interventions are strengthened when they involve and engage youth as equal partners, ultimately providing benefits both for the program and for the involved youth.

Gang Involvement Prevention

Preventing youth involvement in gangs is an important issue. Compared to non-gang members, gang members commit a disproportionate amount of violent crimes and offenses across the country. Gangs and gang involvement result in short- and long-term negative outcomes for gang-involved youth, their friends and families, and the surrounding communities.1 Gangs are typically defined as groups having the following characteristics:

  • Formal organizational structure
  • Identifiable leadership
  • Identified territory
  • Recurrent interaction
  • Involvement in serious or violent behavior2

In an effort to replace older adult gang members who are incarcerated, gangs often try to recruit youth.3 Youth often succumb to these efforts at early ages because of their vulnerability and susceptibility to recruitment tactics.4  As a result, it is necessary to begin prevention efforts at a young age, identify risk and protective factors for gang involvement, and utilize a comprehensive approach that involves multiple sectors and disciplines working together (e.g., justice, education, labor, social services, public health and safety, businesses, philanthropic organizations, faith-based organizations, and other youth, family, and community-serving groups).5

1 Howell, 1998
2 Howell, 1994
3 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 2011
4 FBI, 2011
5 National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, 2011

Mentoring

Positive youth development research has long demonstrated that youth benefit from close, caring relationships with adults who serve as positive role models (Jekielek, Moore, & Hair, 2002). Today, 8.5 million youth continue to lack supportive, sustained relationships with caring adults (Cavell, DuBois, Karcher, Keller, & Rhodes, 2009). Mentoring—which matches youth or “mentees” with responsible, caring “mentors,” usually adults—has been growing in popularity as both a prevention and intervention strategy over the past decades. Mentoring provides youth with mentors who can develop an emotional bond with the mentee, have greater experience than the mentee, and can provide support, guidance, and opportunities to help youth succeed in life and meet their goals (DuBois and Karcher, 2005). Mentoring relationships can be formal or informal with substantial variation, but the essential components include creating caring, empathetic, consistent, and long-lasting relationships, often with some combination of role modeling, teaching, and advising.

Children of Incarcerated Parents

Having a parent in prison can have an impact on a child’s mental health, social behavior, and educational prospects.1 The emotional trauma that may occur and the practical difficulties of a disrupted family life can be compounded by the social stigma that children may face as a result of having a parent in prison or jail.2 Children who have an incarcerated parent may experience financial hardship that results from the loss of that parent’s income.3 Further, some incarcerated parents face termination of parental rights because their children have been in the foster care system beyond the time allowed by law4 or have questions about child support. These children require support from local, state, and federal systems to serve their needs.

Children of incarcerated parents may also face a number of other challenging circumstances. They may have experienced trauma related to their parent’s arrest or experiences leading up to it.5 Children of incarcerated parents may also be more likely to have faced other adverse childhood experiences, including witnessing violence in their communities or directly in their household or exposure to drug and alcohol abuse.6

For more information and resources on these overlapping problems, please see the additional links and resources in this youth topic:

For Parents and Caregivers

For Law Enforcement and Corrections Personnel

For School Administration and Teachers

For Child Welfare/Social Work and Clinical Professionals

1 La Vigne, Davies, & Brazzell, 2008
2 La Vigne et al., 2008
3 General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2011
4 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2011
5 La Vigne et al., 2008
6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2013; Phillips & Gleeson, 2007

NYC Mentoring Children Collaboration

The New York City Mentoring Children Collaboration (NYC MCC) was created to leverage resources to provide mentoring to children of incarcerated parents. NYC MCC is New York City-based, with four collaborating organizations serving of all the boroughs of NYC.Our collaboration was created with the funding support from The New York Community Trust to provide mentoring programs that tailor the needs of our children to the individual neighborhoods in which they live.