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"The Role of Risk: Mentoring Experiences and Outcomes for Youth with Varying Risk Profiles" presents findings from the first large-scale study to examine how the levels and types of risk youth face may influence their relationships with program-assigned mentors and the benefits they derive from these relationships. The study looked closely at the backgroundsof participating youth and their mentors, the mentoring relationships that formed, the program supports that were offered, and the benefits thatyouth accrued--and assessed how these varied for youth with differing "profiles" of risk. Five key findings resulted: (1) Without substantial effort beyond their normal outreach strategies, programs were able to reachand serve youth facing a wide range of challenges; (2) Youth with differing risk "profiles" (that is, levels and types of risk) had relationships of similarstrength and duration and derived similar benefits from program participation; (3) The challenges reported by mentors and the reasons matches ended differed as a function of youth's risk profile; (4) The strongest program benefit, and most consistent across risk groups, was a reduction in depressive symptoms--a particularly noteworthy finding given that almost one in four youth reported worrisome levels of these symptoms at baseline. Findings also suggested gains in social acceptance, academic attitudes and grades. Youth did not appear to benefit in their relationships with parents or in their positive or negative behaviors; and (5) Mentors who received early-match training and consistent program support met more frequently and had longer-lasting relationships with their mentees. Youth whose mentors received training also reported higher-quality relationships. The authors believe the study's results provide useful guidance for practitioners, funders, and policymakers who want to know which youth are best suited for mentoring and how practices might be strengthened to helpensure that youth facing a variety of risks get the most out of their mentoring experience. Seven appendixes are included: (1) Study Method; (2) Analysis of Program Outcomes; (3) Who Were the Mentors?; (4) Measuring Risk; (5) Development and Validation of Mentoring Relationship Quality Scales (by Daniel A. Sass and Michael J. Karcher); (6) Analyses of the Effects of Rematching and Total Time Mentored on Youth Outcomes (by David L. DuBois, Daniel A. Sass and Michael J. Karcher); and (7) Analyses of the Contribution of Case Managers to Mentor Support and Match Outcomes (by Daniel A. Sass and Michael J. Karcher). (Contains 182 endnotes, 30 tables, and 3 figures.) [Additional funding was provided by Washington State Mentors (WSM) and Washington's Department of Social and Health Services. For the executive summary, see ED544230.]

Descriptors: Mentors, At Risk Persons, Youth Programs, Interpersonal Relationship, Program Effectiveness, Outreach Programs, Individual Characteristics, Depression (Psychology), Symptoms (Individual Disorders), Social Development, School Attitudes, Grades (Scholastic), Training, Youth Agencies, Youth Problems, Well Being, Mental Health, Peer Acceptance, Community Programs, Racial Differences, Gender Differences, Disadvantaged Youth

MDRC. 16 East 34th Street 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4326. Tel: 212-532-3200; Fax: 212-684-0832; e-mail: publications[at]; Web site:

Author: Herrera, Carla; DuBois, David L.; Grossman, Jean Baldwin


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