Other Youth Topics


  1. Youth Topics
  2. Mentoring
  3. Mentoring in Practice

Mentoring in Practice

Most mentoring occurs without the support of a formal program; however, the number of mentoring programs, as well as the number of adults and youth participating in formal mentoring relationships has grown substantially in recent years (MENTOR, 2006; Cavell, DuBois, Karcher, Keller, & Rhodes, 2009). To date, there are more than 5,000 mentoring programs that serve around three million youth within the United States. The majority of youth mentoring programs that occur in the United States are community-based programs that are run and staffed by practitioners (DuBois, Doolittle, Yates, Silverthorn, & Tebes, 2006) though site-based programs, especially school-based ones, are on the rise (Rhodes & DuBois, 2006).

According to a 2005 national survey (MENTOR, 2006):

  • Three million adults participate in formal one-on-one mentoring with young people.
  • The number of adults participating in formal one-on-one mentoring in 2005 was 19 percent higher than the number participating in 2002.
  • Forty-four million Americans responded that they would seriously consider mentoring a young person.
  • The majority of adults participating in mentoring relationships with youth are willing to work with youth who are facing difficult life situations, including
    • children of incarcerated parents,
    • youth with disabilities, and
    • immigrant youth.

While these statistics help illustrate the prevalence of mentoring throughout the country, they fail to capture the countless informal mentoring relationships that may impact young people on a daily basis. It is believed that many youth who participate in informal mentoring programs also benefit (DuBois, Doolittle, Yates, Silverthorn, & Tebes, 2006).


Cavell, T., DuBois, D., Karcher, M., Keller, T., & Rhodes, J. (2009). Strengthening mentoring opportunities for at-risk youth. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1233.pdf (PDF, 4 pages)

DuBois, D. L., Doolittle, F, Yates, B. T., Silverthorn, N., Tebes, J. K. (2006). Research methodology and youth mentoring. Journal of Community Psychology, 34(6), 657-676.

MENTOR. (2006). Mentoring in America 2005: A snapshot of the current state of mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_333.pdf  (PDF, 20 pages)

Rhodes, J. & DuBois, D. L. (2006) Understanding and facilitating youth mentoring. Social Policy Report: Giving Child and Youth Development Knowledge Away. Retrieved from http://www.srcd.org/sites/default/files/documents/20-3_youth_mentoring.pdf (PDF, 20 pages)

Other Resources on this Topic


Technical Assistance

Youth Topics

Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).