This report presents results from the nation's first large-scale study to examine how youth's levels and sources of risk may influence their mentoring relationships and the benefits they derive from participating in mentoring programs. More and more, mentoring programs are being asked to serve young people who are considered "higher risk." And while mentoring has a strong research base generally, until now relatively little has been known about programs' capacities to serve and produce benefits for these youth.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study involved more than 1,300 youth, drawn from seven programs serving young people in Washington State. Oversight and support for the project were provided by Washington State Mentors. The study looked closely at the backgrounds of participating youth and their mentors, the mentoring relationships that formed, the program supports that were offered, and the benefits youth received -- and examined how these varied for youth with differing profiles (i.e., levels and types) of risk.
"The Role of Risk" describes the study's methods and findings and considers their implications for practitioners and funders. Overall, the study's results suggest that mentoring programs can benefit youth with a broad range of backgrounds and characteristics. The findings also highlight the importance of youth risk in shaping match experiences, and suggest that programs should do more to tailor training and support based on the specific risks youth face.