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     Evaluation of a Cross-age Peer Mentoring Program for Youth in High Violence Communities


Researchers from Loyola University Chicago are investigating the impact of cross-age mentoring for reducing negative outcomes related to exposure to community violence and delinquency and promoting resiliency and positive development among mentors and mentees from low-income, high crime, urban neighborhoods. Cross-age peer mentoring is a sustained, long-term relationship in which an older peer guides a younger mentee.  In the Saving Lives, Inspiring Youth program, high school students mentor middle school students from the same communities. Matched pairs of mentors and mentees meet for weekly hour-long sessions over the course of a year, engaging in activities that project staff design to facilitate prosocial attitudes and behavior and to develop the mentoring relationship. One hour debriefing sessions with the mentors follow each of the mentoring sessions.

OJJDP funded this project under the OJJDP FY 2014 High-Risk Mentoring Research program, which supports research and evaluations to further examine how certain characteristics, components, and practices of mentoring programs can best support youth who are at particularly high risk for delinquency.

Goals and Objectives:

The overall goal of the project is to evaluate the impact of the cross-age mentoring program and qualitatively assess the implementation process.

Data collection is occurring in a series of four waves, starting with data collected at the program beginning. Researchers are using standardized surveys to assess the effects of the mentoring on several variables, such as beliefs about aggression, self-efficacy, grit, perceptions of community support, and academic accomplishment.

The researchers are also studying key implementation components of the program. They are collecting data from the mentors as well as qualitative information from letters and peer-to-peer interviews. The implementation data will assess the developmental contexts and experiences of the youth in the program.

Consonant with a community-based, participatory element, youth are actively involved as coresearchers.


OJJDP expects data collection to conclude in late 2018 and a final technical report in 2019.

Publications and Products:

Richards, M.,  McCrea, K. T., Dusing, C. R., DiClemente, C., Deane, K., and Quimby, D. 2017. Interim Report for the Evaluation of a Cross-age Peer Mentoring Program for Youth in High Violence Chicago Communities.  NCJ 251379. Available:   

Contact Information:

Benjamin Adams, Social Science Analyst | 202-616-3687

Maryse Richards, Professor, Department of Psychology |773-508-3015 
Loyola University Chicago

Katherine Tyson McCrea, School of Social Work |312-915-7028 
Loyola University Chicago

Project Snapshot

Project Title: Evaluation of a Cross-age Peer Mentoring Program for Youth in High Violence Communities

Solicitation: OJJDP FY 2014 High-Risk Mentoring Research

Grantee: Loyola University of Chicago

Start date: October 1, 2014

End date: September 30, 2018

Award status: Active

Type of research: Evaluation

Related Topical page: Mentoring

Related Program page: Mentoring

Location of research: Chicago, Illinois

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