The Power of Relationships – MENTOR Releases New Research

August 27, 2018

MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership recently released a new report that provides the most comprehensive picture of what adults think about mentoring kids who are not their own — The Power of Relationships: How and Why American Adults Step Up to Mentor the Nation’s Youth. This is a follow-up to MENTOR’s 2014 report, The Mentoring Effect, which is the most comprehensive look at young people’s views on and engagement with mentoring. The goals:

  • Understand adults’ attitudes about mentoring young people outside their families and the role mentoring plays in America’s future
  • Inform strategies to drive investment of time, money, and energy in the mentoring movement

This project was generously supported by funding from AT&T, which allowed MENTOR to not only explore questions related to national engagement in mentoring, but also ask more detailed questions about the role that employers play in connecting individuals to mentoring opportunities.


Key Takeaways from The Power of Relationships Report

Mentoring unites us.

  • Adults view mentoring as a strategy to make communities healthier and more connected, while also addressing many causes of inequality.
  • 73% of mentors are mentoring youth of a different ethnicity. 78% of mentors are mentoring youth of a different socioeconomic status.

Americans believe mentoring is critical to the nation’s future.

  • Two-thirds of adults consider it highly important for young people to have mentors, and this same population estimates that only a quarter of youth have the mentors they need.

There is broad-based support for public and private investment in mentoring.

  • Regardless of whether they are mentoring, most Americans are extremely supportive of mentoring young people outside their families and feel that our government and the private sector should invest more in mentoring.
  • Nearly nine in 10 feel that more mentoring is needed in our country—with more than eight in 10 supporting the use of government funds to grow mentoring opportunities, especially when charitable support is absent.

The mentoring movement is growing and is poised for continued growth.

  • Adults don’t just think mentoring is valuable, they are walking their talk by showing up for young people in millions of hours of mentoring every month.
  • 18- to 29-year-olds are more than twice as likely to have had a mentor in their life than those over 50. Almost half of today’s young adults report having a mentor and those rates appear to have been rising steadily over the past several decades. And 44% of adults are not yet mentoring but willing to consider it.
  • There is a larger volume of structured mentoring happening than prior efforts to measure rates of mentoring have captured. Almost 10% of all adults report mentoring a young person in a structured program in the last year. This survey finds large numbers of adults mentoring in programs set in faith institutions, after-school settings, workplaces, and higher education. This “big tent” definition of the mentoring field more accurately captures the involvement of adults in structured mentoring programs for all our youth.

Adults see mentoring as a flexible and adaptable way to support young people.

  • Mentoring increases cross-race and cross-class interactions, according to survey responses.
  • Adults report that mentoring relationships can support a young person’s growth and development in multiple domains at the same time. Adults don’t just conceptualize mentoring as being about one goal or outcome – the average respondent endorsed over six items from the list presented in the survey.

Employers play a pivotal role in closing the mentoring gap – and increasing employee satisfaction.

  • Employers play a pivotal role in closing the mentoring gap – and increasing employee satisfaction. When an employer directly supports youth mentoring, the percentage of individuals who mentor triples in size – from 25% to approximately 75%.
  • We also find strong correlations between higher career satisfaction and higher job satisfaction for employees of companies who support youth mentoring than for those whose employers do not.

Read the full report here.