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     Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program


In a 2011 meta-analysis of mentoring program evaluations, Dubois et al. found that, overall, mentoring has a positive, although relatively modest, effect.1 The authors also examined the moderators of mentoring program effectiveness to identify elements of mentoring that may be associated with stronger, positive effects. Based on this new information about the importance of moderators, OJJDP incorporated practical recommendations about evidence-based mentoring practices (such as the need for training, parental engagement, and support) into its 2012, 2013, and 2014 multi-state and national mentoring programmatic solicitations.

However, OJJDP also recognized that what is understood regarding the correlation between moderators and positive effects is limited and that gaps exist in how OJJDP can help practitioners operationalize these moderators at a programmatic level. Consequently, in 2012, in consultation with the meta-analysis' lead author, OJJDP launched a rigorous randomized demonstration field experiment-the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program and evaluation-to study two mentoring moderators in more detail: (1) using mentors in an advocacy role and (2) using mentors in a teaching or information provision role.

OJJDP anticipates that findings from this study will inform the training and technical assistance that OJJDP provides to grantees and OJJDP's programmatic mentoring solicitations.

Goals and Objectives:

The goals of this demonstration program are to detail what advocacy and teaching in a mentoring setting look like in practice (to help guide future OJJDP grantees and practitioners) and to understand whether encouraging advocacy and teaching in practice (not a specific program or curricula) could actually improve outcomes. The programs implement these enhanced mentor roles through several matching, training, and monitoring and support strategies.

For purposes of this program, advocacy or teaching roles are defined as those in which the mentor offers active guidance to the youth (teaching) or seeks to facilitate the youth's relationships with peers and/or other supportive adults and to support engagement with appropriate activities and resources (advocacy).

This should not be confused with an overly directive or authoritarian approach, which may cause potentially harmful outcomes in youth mentoring. It is also not a therapeutic, counseling, informational/instructional, or explicit skill-building, such as a job skills, approach.

It is, instead, a developmental approach to mentoring in which the mentor's role is to actively foster the development of the youth. The mentor functions in a way that actively helps the youth reach his or her full potential. Under this approach, the mentor builds a close relationship with the youth in the context of providing appropriate guidance in combination with enhancing the youth's access to key resources and supports outside of the relationship.

The study consists of 10 programmatic grantees, and each grantee includes a collaboration of 3 or 4 implementation sites, for a total of 32 implementation sites that serve 75 to 100 youth each. The study includes a process evaluation, which is also examining the quality of implementation, and a random assignment outcome evaluation.


Data collection was completed at the end of 2016, and findings and publications are expected in 2018.

Contact Information:

Jennifer Tyson, Research Coordinator | 202-305-1598

G. Roger Jarjoura, Ph.D., Principal Researcher | 317- 632-7819
American Institutes for Research

1 DuBois, D.L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J.E., Silverthorn, N., and Valentine, J.C. 2011. "How Effective Are Mentoring Programs for Youth? A Systematic Assessment of the Evidence." Psychological Science in the Public Interest 12(2):57-91.

Project Snapshot

Project Title: Evaluation of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program

Most recent solicitation: Evaluation contract through the Library of Congress, Federal Research Division and OJJDP FY 2012 Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program (programmatic solicitation)

Grantee: American Institutes for Research

Start date: September 17, 2012

End date: March 30, 2018

Award status: Active

Type of research: Evaluation

Related topical page: Mentoring

Location of research: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah

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