Match Support for Mentors

 
  • Evidence Rating for this Practice:

    Insufficient Research (Insufficient Evidence: 5 Studies; Promising: 1 Study)

    In four of the six studies reviewed, the practice of match support for mentors was, in part, associated with better outcomes. However, the outcome evidence reached the threshold required for a designation of Promising in only one of these studies. The methodology used for assessing effects of the practice in this study met criteria for rigor as well, thus supporting a designation of Promising. In the other studies reviewed, the methodology used for assessing effects of the practice did not meet relevant criteria for rigor. As a result, these studies were each designated as Insufficient Evidence and the practice as a whole is designated as Insufficient Research.

    Description of Practice:

    Match support for mentors involves purposeful and ongoing communication between mentoring program staff and mentors regarding their relationships with mentees after the relationships have begun. The primary aim is to help ensure that the mentor receives appropriate guidance, oversight, and encouragement, thus facilitating the development of high-quality mentoring relationship and promotion of desirable outcomes for the mentee. Additional goals may be to foster positive and sustained mentor engagement with the program. Match support may be provided to mentors in a wide range of programs that vary in their design and practices as well as in the characteristics of the youth served and mentors. This type of support may be provided according to a pre-determined schedule as well as in response to mentor requests. Support may be provided in-person, over the phone, or via email, but must involve two-way communication between the mentor and program staff person. Support contacts can range in structure from relatively open-ended check-ins to more pre-determined sets of questions; the topics that are emphasized may vary depending on the stage or status of the relationship and also may be tailored or individualized for a variety of purposes (e.g., monitoring progress toward match or youth goals). The frequency and format of support contacts, furthermore, may be varied over time for purposes such as facilitating program efficiency. This practice is distinguished from post-match training (in which the focus is on general information sharing and skill development rather than facilitation of the mentor’s relationships with their particular mentees), mentor support sessions (in which the focus is on sharing among mentors rather than staff-delivered support), and staff-facilitated mentor-mentee activities (in which there are typically few, if any, opportunities for individual communication with mentors).

    Goals:

    The primary goal of the practice is to provide mentors with ongoing support to strengthen the mentoring relationship and enhance positive youth outcomes.

    Target Population/Eligibility of Target Sites:

    This practice is potentially applicable to all forms of mentoring and the full range of mentors.

    Theory:

    Match support for mentors is not guided by a particular theoretical perspective. However, the focus of this practice on providing ongoing support to mentors in order to strengthen their knowledge, skills, and efficacy beliefs for mentoring youth is consistent with the prominent role given to such factors in numerous established theories of behavior change, including the Integrated Behavior Model (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2008). Additionally, the practice is consistent with importance that mentoring relationship quality has been widely assumed to have in promoting positive youth outcomes (Rhodes, 2005).

    Corresponding Elements of Effective Practice:

    This practice is most relevant to the area of Monitoring and Support within the Elements of Effective Practice.

    Key Personnel:

    The successful implementation of this practice is likely to require staff to possess effective listening and problem solving skills, to have a sound understanding of the potential stages of mentoring relationship development and the opportunities and challenges they can each present, and to be familiar with available resources to support mentoring relationships (activities for matches, opportunities for mentor training, etc). Along with initial training in such areas, staff may benefit from ongoing supervision from more senior or experienced staff as well as opportunities for peer sharing and support.

    Additional Information:

    None.

  • Studies 1 (Adult Mentors) and 2 (High School-Age Mentors)

    Evidence Classification:

    Insufficient Evidence (Limited Outcome Evidence)

    Evaluation Methodology:

    Herrera, Kauh, Cooney, Grossman, & McMaken (2008) assessed correlates of match support in a large scale, random assignment impact study of Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) school-based mentoring programs utilizing adults and high school students as mentors. The study included 10 BBBS school-based mentoring programs, involving 71 schools and 1,139 youths in grades 4 through 9. Half of the youth were randomly selected to be matched with volunteer mentors and the other half were placed on a waiting list for eventual matching when the study ended 15 months later, serving as the control group in the study. Approximately half of the mentors (“Bigs”) (48%) were 18 years old or younger (i.e., high school students) and an additional 17 percent were 19 to 24 years old (predominately college students). The remaining Bigs were adults ages 25 and older. Programs were designed for matches to meet during or after school once a week for an hour or more and to engage in a range of academic and social activities with support from BBBS and school staff. High school-age Bigs, which included seniors as well as younger students, usually participated in the mentoring program in groups as part of a class or community service requirement and often met their matches in the presence of other matches. High school-age Bigs were most often matched with a youth (“Little”) in elementary school. Of the 71 schools, there were 30 that utilized exclusively high school students as mentors and 24 that utilized adults exclusively as mentors.

    Measures were completed by youth, mentors, and youths’ teachers on three occasions: Baseline: Beginning of First School Year, First Follow-Up: End of First School Year, and Second Follow-Up: Late Fall of Second School Year. Further details on the study design and sample can be found in Herrera et al. (2008). To assess the amount and quality of match support, mentors were asked to report how often they communicated with BBBS staff for support, how often they communicated with school staff, and the quality of the support received from BBBS staff (extent to which staff shared information about Littles with their Bigs, suggested activities, were willing to help, and seemed concerned about how well the match was going). The association of the above noted measures of match support (averaged across responses from all Bigs in a given program) with youth outcomes was examined and frequency of communication with BBBS staff was the only measure found to be associated with outcomes for Littles who were mentored by high school-age Bigs. The measure of frequency of communication with BBBS staff was based on responses to the following 3 items: (1) How often did you talk one-on-one with BBBS staff for support or advice? (2) How often did you talk with BBBS staff for support or advice, with other mentors present? and (3) how often did you talk with BBBS staff for support or advice, with your Little present? The final measure reflected the most frequent level of communication reported in response to these questions. In the analyses for this measure, average scores on the measure across all Bigs in a given program were split at the median value; averages above the median were categorized as high communication programs and those below the median as low communication programs. Analyses compared estimated impacts of program participation on youth outcomes within high communication programs to those within low communication programs. Separate analyses were carried out for Littles mentored by high school-age and adult Bigs, respectively. Analyses were conducted using hierarchical linear models in order to account for program level similarities in outcomes among youth affiliated with the same program. Analyses were limited to program estimates for the 54 schools where either high school students or adults were used exclusively as mentors.

    Evaluation Outcomes:

    Engaging in Serious School Misconduct (teacher report)
    For Littles mentored by adult Bigs, Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation for student engagement in serious school misconduct was significantly stronger (more favorable) in high communication programs in comparison to low communication programs. However, the corresponding difference was not significant for Littles mentored by high school students.

    Absence without Excuse (teacher report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on absences without an excuse did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Overall Academic Performance (teacher report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on overall academic peformance did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Scholastic Efficacy (youth report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on scholastic efficacy did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Connectedness to School (youth report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on connectedness to school did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Start to Skip School (youth report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on starting to skip school did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Substance use (youth report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on substance use did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Misconduct outside of school (youth report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on misconduct outside of school did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Quality of classwork (teacher report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on absences without an excuse did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Classroom Effort (teacher report)
    Herrera et al. (2008) found that the estimated impact of program participation on classroom effort did not differ significantly across low and high communication programs either for Littles mentored by adults or for those mentored by high school students.

    Additional Findings
    Herrera et al. (2008) also examined the association of measures of match support (i.e., mentor reports of frequency of communication with BBBS staff and quality of support received from BBBS staff) with indicators of match length, quality, and carryover from one school year to the next (match length and carryover were based on mentor report and quality was assessed both by mentor report and mentee report). The analysis for match length, which was measured in days, was conducted among mentors who had only one match over the course of the study. These analyses, which were conducted at the individual-level rather than at the program-level, found that frequency and perceived quality of support received from BBBS staff were each associated with one or more of the above indicators. More specifically, high school-age Bigs who reported more frequent communication with BBBS staff as well as those who reported higher quality support from BBBS staff reported longer lasting matches; these associations were not found for adult Bigs and their matches. High school-age Bigs’ reports of frequency of communication with BBBS staff were not associated with Bigs’ reports of match quality but were associated negatively with Littles’ reports of match quality at first follow-up (e.g., feelings of closeness toward mentor) and second follow-up (e.g., extent to which activities with mentor reflected Little’s interests). On the other hand, adult Bigs’ reported frequency of communication was associated positively with mentor reports of relationship quality (e.g., feelings of closeness toward Little). Neither measure of match support was associated with carryover of matches from one year to the next.


    Study 3

    Evidence Classification:

    Insufficient Evidence (Limited Outcome Evidence)

    Evaluation Methodology:

    Bernstein and colleagues (2009) examined the practice of match support in a randomized control evaluation of Department of Education (ED) funded school-based mentoring programs. Thirty-two unique grantees were selected from 245 eligible grantee programs based on having met the inclusion criteria (recruiting and matching students in Fall 2005 and/or Fall 2006; have enough program participants to be assigned to both intervention and control group; and able to cooperate with/support data collection efforts). The majority of programs were operated by non-profit/community-based organizations (66 percent), with an average of 6 years of experience with school-based mentoring programs.

    Participating programs recruited students in Grades 4 through 8 in 2 cohorts (Summer-Fall 2005 and Spring-Fall 2006). In each cohort, 21 programs recruited students; 10 recruited students in both cohorts for a total of 42 groups of students. Students were identified for program participation by school staff because of their risk for poor academic outcomes, dropping out of school, delinquency, and/or gang involvement and consented to participate by their parents. A total of 2,573 eligible and consented students were randomly assigned into intervention (receive mentoring from the program) or control group (receive no mentoring from the program during the study). Programs matched students with volunteer adult or older peer (college or secondary school) mentors. Mentors were asked to meet with their mentees on a regular basis throughout the school year and to focus on both the academic and social needs of their mentees. Mentors were tasked with providing general guidance, serving as role models, and providing academic assistance and encouragement. Almost three quarters (72 percent) of the mentors were female. More than half (56 percent) were between the ages of 23 and 64 years. An additional 23 percent were between 19 and 22 years. Among the remaining, 17 percent were 18 years and younger and 3 percent were above 65 years old. Mentors came from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds with approximately two thirds being White and twenty-nine percent identifying as Black or African American. Approximately one-half (49 percent) of the mentors were employed; 39 percent were in school full-time, primarily in college. Eighty-two percent of the mentors had completed at least some college or other form of post-secondary training.

    Information on the practice of match support was collected from mentors. Mentor surveys, administered to all mentors at the end of the program year, asked mentors about the type of ongoing support the program provided to them and their student(s), the frequency of contact with program supervisor about how things were going, and whether the contact was required or encouraged. Mentors also provided ratings of the quality and importance of ongoing program staff support. Eighty-six percent of mentors completed the survey. Ninety-four percent of mentors reported receiving ongoing support, with support reported to be provided variously through supervised meetings (51 percent), access to social workers (62 percent), online discussion forums and listervs, informal gatherings, etc. Frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was averaged across mentors to produce site-level estimates of mentor support. The association between these averages and estimates of site-level program effects on youth outcomes (obtained from youth self-report surveys and student record data) were examined using both bivariate analysis and multiple regression analyses that controlled for student characteristics (age, gender, school lunch eligibility status, race/ethnicity, and family structure) and student baseline score on the outcome being evaluated. Student outcome measures were categorized into 3 domains - academic outcomes and participation; interpersonal relationships, personal responsibility, and community involvement; and juvenile delinquency and participation in harmful activities.

    Evaluation Outcomes:

    Scholastic Efficacy and School Bonding (student survey)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on student-reported level of scholastic efficacy and school bonding in either the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

    Future Orientation (student survey)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on student-reported future orientation in either the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

    Pro-social Behaviors (student survey)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated significantly and negatively with program effects on student-reported involvement in pro-social behaviors (interpersonal relationships, personal responsibility and community involvement) in both the bivariate and multivariate analyses. That is, greater mentor-reported frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated with weaker or less favorable estimated program effects on pro-social behavior (i.e., the direction of the association was opposite to the direction that would be consistent with a beneficial effect for the practice being measured).

    Delinquency (student survey)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on student-reported engagement in delinquent behaviors in either the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

    Misconduct (student survey)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on student-reported level of misconduct in the bivariate analysis, but was associated marginally significantly and in an unfavorable direction with program effects on student misconduct in the multivariate analysis. That is, after adjusting for baseline student characteristics, greater frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated with estimated program effects on student-reported misconduct that were less favorable (i.e., the direction of the association was opposite to the direction that would be consistent with a beneficial effect for the practice being measured).

    Math Grades (school records)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effect on students’ school-reported math grades in the bivariate analysis. However, it was associated marginally significantly and negatively with program effects on students’ math grades in the multivariate analysis. That is, greater mentor-reported frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated with weaker or less favorable estimated program effects on math grades (i.e., the direction of the association was opposite to the direction that would be consistent with a beneficial effect for the practice being measured).

    English Language Arts Grades (school records)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on students’ school-reported English language arts grades in either the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

    Any Delinquency (school records)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated marginally significantly and in an unfavorable direction with program impacts on students’ school-reported involvement in delinquent behaviors (violence, drug related infractions and truancy) in bivariate analyses; the corresponding association was significant and in the same direction in multivariate analyses. That is, greater frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings as reported by mentors was associated with less favorable estimated program effects on delinquent behavior (i.e., the direction of the association was opposite to the direction that would be consistent with a beneficial effect for the practice being measured).

    Any Misconduct (school records)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on students’ school-reported engagement in misconduct in either the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

    Overall Absenteeism Rates (school records)
    Bernstein et al. (2009) found that average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was not associated significantly with program effects on students’ school-reported attendance rates (including excused and unexcused absences) in either the bivariate or multivariate analyses.

    Additional Findings
    Bernstein et al. (2008) also examined the association of average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings with program impacts on other school-reported performance outcomes (science and social studies grades) and on reading/ELA and math scores on Statewide Assessment Tests. In the bivariate analysis, average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated significantly, and in an unfavorable direction, with program effects on social science grades. The corresponding association was also significant and in the same direction in multivariate analyses. That is, greater frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings as reported by mentors was associated with less favorable estimated program effects on social studies grades (i.e., the direction of the association was opposite to the direction that would be consistent with a beneficial effect for the practice being measured). In the bivariate analysis, average frequency of mentor-supervisor meetings was associated marginally significantly, and in an unfavorable direction, with program effects on math test scores. However, the corresponding association was not significant in multivariate analyses.


    Study 4

    Evidence Classification:

    Insufficient Evidence (Inadequate Design for Assessing Effects of the Practice; Limited Outcome Evidence)

    Evaluation Methodology:

    McClanahan (1998) examined the practice of match support in a study of the nature and content of the mentoring relationships in the Hospital Youth Mentoring Program (HYMP), a hospital-based career mentoring program for urban high school students. This program targeted students who were interested in health careers but at risk of poor academic performance to help them complete school and prepare for post-secondary education or employment. Each student was matched with a mentor with the aim of exposing the student to a variety of health-related professions as well as providing the student with career guidance and work experience opportunities. Data were collected from 13 program sites through surveys of mentors, youth, and program coordinators, focus groups with mentors and youth, and historical program documents. Surveys were completed by 371 students (from a total of 515 students served by the programs) and 266 mentors (from a total of 465 mentors). Surveys were designed to measure aspects of the students’ and mentors’ experiences in the program and included questions on length of the match, mentor support, mentoring style, and type of activities the pair engaged in.

    Most of the students were female (66 percent), 53 percent were African American, 19 percent were Hispanic and 13 percent were Asian American (13 percent). Student ages ranged from 14 to 22, but most students were 16 to 18 years old (73 percent), reflecting the program’s targeting of high school youth. Although proportions varied widely between programs, most students (91 percent) reported grades of mostly C’s or better, about a quarter of the students were from families receiving public assistance, almost half of the students reported receiving reduced price or free lunch at school, and 35 percent reported themselves to be from mother-only families. All mentors were hospital employees who volunteered to be mentors. About half the mentors were in supervisory positions (48 percent) and a quarter of mentors (25 percent) had previously mentored in another program. Almost half of the volunteer mentors were White (51 percent), and 36 percent were African American. The mentors were also predominately female (73 percent) and middle-aged (61 percent between 31- and 50-years old). At the time of the evaluation, most student/mentor pairs had been matched for over a year.

    Mentor reports of the frequency of their meetings with program staff were used to assess match support. Slightly more than half of the mentors (58 percent) reported meeting with program staff at least once a month. Bivariate analyses examined correlations between reported frequency of meetings with staff and five relationship outcomes: student-reported length of the match, student-reported mentor support, student-reported mentoring style (whether the mentor took a developmental or prescriptive approach to the relationship), mentor-reported engagement in social activities with mentee, and mentor-reported amount of career mentoring taking place in the relationship). Analyses were at the individual mentor level, rather than program level and did not incorporate adjustments to standard errors for clustering/non-independence of data within program sites.

    Evaluation Outcomes:

    Length of the Match (student survey)
    McClanahan (1998) found that mentor reports of the frequency of interaction with staff were not significantly correlated with mentee reports of relationship duration.

    Mentor Support (student survey)
    Mentor reports of the frequency of interaction with staff were not significantly correlated with the level of support that mentees reported receiving from their mentors.

    Mentor Developmental vs. Prescriptive Style (student survey)
    McClanahan (1998) found that mentor reports of the frequency of interaction with staff were not related to mentee reports of whether the mentor took a developmental or prescriptive approach to the relationship.

    Engage in Social Activities (mentor survey)
    Mentor reports of the frequency of interaction with staff had a significant positive correlation with mentor reports of the level of social activities engaged in with mentees. This association was small- to medium-size in magnitude.

    Engage in Career Mentoring (mentor survey)
    McClanahan (1998) found that mentor reports of the frequency of interaction with staff had a significant positive correlation with mentor reports of the amount of career-related mentoring taking place in the relationship. This association was small in magnitude.


    Study 5

    Evidence Classification:

    Promising

    Evaluation Methodology:

    Herrera, DuBois, and Grossman (2013) examined correlates of match support for mentors as part of an evaluation of the effectiveness of seven community-based youth mentoring programs, 5 of which were Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) agencies. Mentors in the programs were volunteers and provided one-on-one mentoring to youth with different risk profiles. The evaluation included 1,310 youth who ranged in age from 8- to 15-years and were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds (23 percent were African American, 22 percent were Hispanic and 43 percent were White). Almost all youth (99 percent) in the programs faced one or more environmental risk factors; 66 percent of the youth lived in single-parent homes and 43 percent were from low-income households (i.e., annual incomes below $20,000). Additionally, nearly three quarters (71 percent) experienced one or more individual risk factors, including academic challenges, mental health concerns and problem behaviors. Seventy-one percent of program participants had both environmental and individual risk factors; approximately one-fourth (26 percent) were designated as “high” on both types of risk.

    Mentors in the various programs were predominately White (82 percent), had an average age of 32 years, and nearly one-quarter were college students (one of the programs was university-based and used college student as mentors). Nearly half of the mentors (44 percent) reported having prior experience working with youth with behavioral, social or emotional difficulties and similar numbers reported experience working with youth from diverse cultural backgrounds (45 percent) and youth living in poverty (35 percent). Survey measures for the study were completed by youth, mentors, and parents both at baseline and at a 13-month follow-up.

    Match support provided to mentors was measured using program-recorded data for each match and survey data collected from youth. Participating programs had set expectations for the frequency of staff-mentor contacts; six of the seven programs required contact with mentors at least once a month and one required contact every two months. Reciprocated email contact with a mentor could substitute for phone or in-person communication, but not in consecutive months. Programs reported communicating with 61 percent of mentors during at least 70 percent of the months that their mentoring relationships were active. Analyses examined whether receiving match support at least 70 percent of the months was predictive of mentor-mentee meeting frequency (frequent meetings were defined as 3 or more meetings a month at least 70 percent of the time together) and the relationship lasting 12 months or more, both of which were assessed via program records, and relationship quality as reported by the youth (indices of levels of goal or growth focus, youth-centeredness in the relationship, and the youth’s feelings of closeness toward his or her mentor). All analyses controlled for the youth’s gender, age, race/ethnicity, and risk status group as well as for program.

    Evaluation Outcomes:

    Mentor-Mentee Meeting Frequency (program records)
    Herrera et al. (2013) found that receiving regular match support (at least 70 percent of the months monitored in the study) was significantly and positively correlated with mentor-mentee meeting frequency.

    Mentoring Relationship Lasting 12 Months or Longer (program records)
    Herrera et al. (2013) found that receiving regular match support was significantly and positively correlated with relationships lasting months or more.

    Mentoring Relationship Quality: Growth/goal Focus (youth survey)
    Herrera et al. (2013) found that receiving regular match support was not significantly correlated with mentee-reported level of growth/goal focus in the mentoring relationship.

    Mentoring Relationship Quality: Youth Centeredness (youth survey)
    Herrera et al. (2013) found that receiving regular match support was not significantly correlated with mentee-reported level of youth centeredness in the mentoring relationship.

    Mentoring Relationship Quality: Closeness (youth survey)
    Herrera et al. (2013) found that receiving regular match support was not significantly correlated with mentee-reported feelings of closeness toward their mentors.

    Additional Findings
    Herrera et al. (2013) also tested whether receiving match support at least 70 percent of the months as a predictor of mentoring relationship outcome varied according to youth individual and environmental risk status. No significant differences were found.


    Study 6

    Evidence Classification:

    Insufficient Evidence (Inadequate Design for Assessing Effects of the Practice; Limited Outcome Evidence)

    Evaluation Methodology:

    Stevens (2014) examined the association of match support with mentor expectation-experience discrepancy and intensity of mentor-mentee contact in a cross-sectional study of Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) community based programs. Study participants were adult volunteers matched with youth for 3-12 months. Mentors were recruited to complete an online survey via an email invitation distributed by their BBBS agency between April and August of 2013. A total of 8 BBBS agencies participated in the study and distributed the survey to approximately 782 mentors; 113 mentors completed the survey. Discrepancies between the initial expectations and actual experiences of mentors were measured using The Volunteer Function Inventory (VFI); positive discrepancy scores indicated that the mentor’s reported experience did not meet his or her initial expectations, whereas negative discrepancy scores indicated that the mentor’s experience exceeded initial expectations. Intensity of contact between mentors and youth was assessed using mentor reports of the number of hours of face-to-face contact they had with their Littles in the month preceding the survey. Frequency of match support received from BBBS staff was assessed using mentor reports of frequency of contact with a BBBS case manager (every two weeks, once a month, or once every three months). Due to a small number of mentors reporting contact frequency every two weeks, the responses were collapsed into two levels (at least once a month and once every three months). Sixty-eight percent of mentors in the study reported receiving match support at least monthly and 32 percent reported match support once every 3 months.

    Evaluation Outcomes:

    Discrepancy Score
    Stevens (2014) found that frequency of contact with BBBS staff was not significantly associated with mentor discrepancy scores.

    Number of hours of face to face contact
    Stevens (2014) found that frequency of contact with BBBS staff was not significantly associated with mentor reported number of hours of face to face contact.

  • External Validity Evidence:

    Variations in the Practice
    In the studies reviewed, match support appears to have been variously provided in regularly scheduled interactions with program staff or a more ad hoc basis (e.g., at the mentor’s request(. Various formats, such as in-person, telephone, and email, also appear to have been utilized. Existing evidence is insufficient to determine the implications, if any, of the effectiveness of match support in relation to these types of variations. Likewise, beyond a general focus on the mentoring relationship, the existing evidence does not address possible implications of differing content guidelines or priorities for match support.

    Youth
    Most of the youth served by programs evaluated in the studies were from disadvantaged backgrounds (for example, they were from low income families or lived in a one-parent household), had varying individual risks (for example, academic challenges or prior delinquency) and belonged to ethnic minority groups. Most programs also targeted youth in elementary or middle school and served varying proportions of male and female students. Although some of the studies assessed the differences in the impact of mentoring programs on selected outcomes by youth characteristics, including gender, age, family structure, prior delinquency behaviors and prior academic non-proficiency, only one of the studies tested for differences in effects of match support across these subgroups. Herrera et al. (2013) assessed whether the effect of match support on mentoring relationship outcomes varied according to youth individual and environmental risk status.

    Mentors
    All of the mentors in the studies reviewed were volunteer mentors. Mentors varied in their age, gender, race and ethnicity and had varying levels of experience with mentoring and with youth. Two studies also included mentors who were in high school or college. Five of the six studies did not test for differences in effect of match support along mentor characteristics, making the applicability of findings to different subgroups of mentors unknown. Herrera et al. (2008), however, did assess differences in effects of match support on relationship duration and quality (but not youth outcomes) between adult and high school mentors.

    Program Settings/Structures
    Most mentoring programs evaluated in the studies reviewed were either community or school-based programs. The only exception was an evaluation of hospital-based mentoring programs conducted by McClanahan (1998). All programs also used a one-on-one mentoring format, and provided varying amounts and types of mentoring training and support. Although studies did examine the effect of some of these program structures or settings on youth outcomes, they did not test for difference in effects of match support on the basis of these program characteristics and, therefore, applicability of findings to different program structures or settings is unknown.

    Outcomes
    Studies included in this review provided limited variation in the youth outcomes that were assessed. Only two of the six studies examined the correlation between match support and youth outcomes, all of which were academic or delinquency related, and found some significant associations. Herrera et al. (2008) found an association between frequency of communication with staff and student engagement in serious school misconduct for students with adult mentors and between frequency of communication with staff and classroom effort for students with high school mentors. Bernstein et al. (2009) found a negative association between match support and pro-social behaviors and math grades and a positive association between match support and delinquent behavior. However, the use of a fixed-effects model in Bernstein at al. (2009) makes the findings not generalizable beyond the purposively selected programs. The remaining four studies investigated the effect of match support on outcomes related to the mentoring relationship, such as mentor-mentee meeting frequency, match duration, and relationship quality, and also yielded mixed results.

  • Resources Available to Support Implementation:

    Resources to support implementation of pre-match training of mentors can be found under the Resources for Mentoring Programs section of this website.



















  • Evidence Base:

    Herrera, C. Kauh, T. J., Cooney, S. M., Grossman, J. B., & McMaken, J. (2008). High school students as mentors: Findings from the Big Brother Big Sister school-based mentoring impact Study. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1149.pdf

    Bernstein, L., Dun Rappaport, C., Olsho, L., Hunt, D., & Levin, M. (2009). Impact evaluation of the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program (NCEE 2009-4047). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094047/pdf/20094047.pdf

    McClanahan, W. (1998). Relationships in a career mentoring program: Lessons learned from the Hospital Youth Mentoring Program. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved from http://issuelab.org/home

    Herrera, C., DuBois, D. L., & Grossman, J. B. (2013). The role of risk: Mentoring experiences and outcomes for youth with varying risk profiles. New York, NY: A Public/Private Ventures project distributed by MDRC. Retrieved from http://www.mdrc.org/publication/role-risk

    Steven, M. (2014). Maintaining BBBS mentoring relationships: Exploring predictors of intensity of contact. (Published doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Antioch University Repository and Archive. (Paper 149) http://aura.antioch.edu/etds/149

    Additional References:

    Montano, D. E., & Kasprzyk D. (2008) Theory of Reasoned Action, Theory of Planned Behavior, and the Integrated Behavior Model. In K. Glanz, B. K. Rimer, K. Viswanath (Eds.), Health behavior and health education (4th ed., pp. 67-92). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Rhodes, J. E. (2005) A model of youth mentoring. In D. L. DuBois & M. J. Karcher (Eds.), Handbook of youth mentoring (pp. 30-43). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE

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