National Mentoring Resource Center Blog

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Law Enforcement as Mentors: Building Relationships, Careers, and Community

MARCH 15, 2017
BY: ED BOWERS, PH.D, NMRC RESEARCH BOARD MEMBER, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY

Editor's Note: Several members of the NMRC Research Board participated in the 2017 National Mentoring Summit this past February, leading a research track that featured OJJDP-funded research and totaled 13 workshops across the multi-day event. We asked several Research Board members to share their key insights from the event based on a workshop they lead, an innovation they learned about, or a conversation they had with an attendee that made them think about the mentoring field in a new light. We will run several of these stories over the months of March and April in the NMRC blog to bring the Summit to life for those who could not attend.

A cross-cutting theme of the 2017 National Mentoring Summit was the role of law enforcement in the mentoring movement. Several workshop sessions provided exemplary programs and innovative ideas for engaging law enforcement in mentoring, and the closing plenary session focused on “Strengthening Community and Police Relations through Mentoring.” I think this emphasis is quite appropriate as law enforcement-based mentoring programs find themselves at a unique nexus in the fields of mentoring, career development, and community development, particularly in communities of color. Police are very aware of the needs of youth in their communities. They also recognize that they “cannot arrest their way out of the problem,” but need to take a different approach to build relationships with youth beyond legal encounters. Therefore, police-as-mentor programs are timely and well-positioned to benefit youth and communities in several ways.

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Mentoring Black Male Youth: Are Your Stars in the Game?

MARCH 13, 2017
BY: POLLY Y. GIPSON, PHD CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR/LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST, DIRECTOR, TRAUMA AND GRIEF CLINIC, DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY, MICHIGAN MEDICINE, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Editor's Note: Several members of the NMRC Research Board participated in the 2017 National Mentoring Summit this past February, leading a research track that featured OJJDP-funded research and totaled 13 workshops across the multi-day event. We asked several Research Board members to share their key insights from the event based on a workshop they lead, an innovation they learned about, or a conversation they had with an attendee that made them think about the mentoring field in a new light. We will run several of these stories over the months of March and April in the NMRC blog to bring the Summit to life for those who could not attend.

“The Urgency to Redefine Support for Black Male Achievement in Mentoring,” was a compelling presentation delivered at the National Mentoring Summit 2017 by L-Mani S. Viney, Executive Director of the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation. Viney challenged Black male youth mentoring programs and donors/grant funders supporting these programs to reconsider their definitions of achievement. That is, to critically think about how Black males are selected for “mentorship” and whether the criteria stem from deficit-based models. For example, were these Black males selected because they are deemed “at risk?” According to Viney, too often we fall into this trap. He challenged us to move toward asset-based models. Viney assessed which stakeholders were in the room and issued a call to educational, philanthropic and grantee agencies to shift toward an utilization of asset-based data to drive programming and funding decisions as well as practice elements. Viney strongly encouraged grantmakers to reassess their funding guidelines to broaden their definitions for mentoring programs supporting boys of color. Examples Viney provided of deficit versus asset-based criteria included, at risk vs. high achievement; low high school graduation rate vs. college completion; and drug use/gang activity vs. honors society/career advancement.

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Specialty Mentoring as a Means to Recruit Male Mentors

MARCH 13, 2017
BY: ELYSIA KIYIJA, PROGRAMS MANAGER, BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF CENTRAL OREGON

In 2016, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon (BBBSCO) launched our Latino Mentoring Program, a college and career-focused mentoring program for Latino young people, and observed that more male mentors enrolled in the program than female. This program is community-based and matches high school juniors with mentors for one year to help provide gateways to college access and other post-secondary opportunities. With so many failed recruitment campaigns targeting men in the past, we were eager to learn what was motivating male volunteers to enroll in this mentoring program, in the hopes that this formula could be replicated elsewhere, as so many mentoring organizations struggle to recruit men.

A closer look revealed that this volunteer opportunity to this community-based mentoring program had a key component: a tangible and specific goal. In the Latino Mentoring Program, the goal is to support Latino students with a successful transition from high school to college or other technical or trade program of the students’ choosing. Based on our conversations with our male mentors about their interest in the program, it appeared that men were excited to volunteer their time to mentor Latino youth and create a measureable impact with their community.

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STAR Project: A Systemic View of Youth Mentoring Match Closures

MARCH 9, 2017
BY: TOM KELLER, PH.D., NMRC RESEARCH BOARD MEMBER AND PROFESSOR AT PORTLAND STATE

Editor's Note: Several members of the NMRC Research Board participated in the 2017 National Mentoring Summit this past February, leading a research track that featured OJJDP-funded research and totaled 13 workshops across the multi-day event. We asked several Research Board members to share their key insights from the event based on a workshop they lead, an innovation they learned about, or a conversation they had with an attendee that made them think about the mentoring field in a new light. We will run several of these stories over the months of March and April in the NMRC blog to bring the Summit to life for those who could not attend.

At the 2017 National Mentoring Summit, Renee Spencer and I presented some preliminary findings from an OJJDP-funded study that we are conducting in collaboration with four large Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) affiliate chapters. The goal of this project, called the Study To Analyze Relationships (STAR), is to understand how multiple program participants (mentor, mentee, parent/guardian, and program staff member) individually and collectively contribute to the development and duration of a new mentoring relationship. We have a particular interest in matches that terminate before reaching their initial one-year commitment for program participation. We want to provide BBBS agencies with evidence-based insights that will help them prevent premature match closures and foster longer-lasting relationships.

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Are Current Mentoring Models Bad for Kids’ Health?

MARCH 7, 2017
BY: BERNADETTE SÁNCHEZ, PHD, NMRC RESEARCH BOARD MEMBER & PROFESSOR AT DEPAUL UNIVERSITY

Editor's Note: Several members of the NMRC Research Board participated in the 2017 National Mentoring Summit this past February, leading a research track that featured OJJDP-funded research and totaled 13 workshops across the multi-day event. We asked several Research Board members to share their key insights from the event based on a workshop they lead, an innovation they learned about, or a conversation they had with an attendee that made them think about the mentoring field in a new light. We will run several of these stories over the months of March and April in the NMRC blog to bring the Summit to life for those who could not attend.

Recent longitudinal studies show that Black adolescents and adults from low socioeconomic backgrounds who are resilient are also more likely to get physically sick. However, White adolescents and adults from similar backgrounds are immune to this negative outcome. For example, a study of Black, low-income adolescents revealed that those who were resilient (as demonstrated by high aspirations, unwavering persistence, investment in education, and avoidance of activities that sidetrack success) were also more likely to have type 2 diabetes as adults compared to Black adolescents who didn’t have these resilient traits. This trend didn’t emerge for White, low-income adolescents who were resilient. Other studies show similar patterns between White and Black participants. What explains these trends? Researchers speculate that Black, low-income resilient youth may feel enormous pressure to succeed, may feel socially isolated as they transition to new settings (e.g., college), and may encounter racism, which could ultimately leave them exhausted and neglect their physical health.

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