Youth-Nex Talk with Dr. Jean Rhodes

Feb 5, 2021 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

For more information, please visit the Youth-Nex calendar.

Title: Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

Abstract: Although youth mentoring is one of the most popular and frequently suggested volunteer activities in the U.S., programs are not nearly as effective as most people assume. The results of hundreds of evaluations present a disappointing bottom line.Yet, because the term “mentoring” is so intuitively appealing, and because this approach has been backed by such powerful constituents—from former U.S. presidents to Wall Street executives and professional athletes—the field has been granted unusual license to improvise and avoid the consequences of disappointing findings. Programs could do much better. Yet most remain wedded to an outdated “friendship” model that has remained essentially unchanged since the early 1900s. They rest on the assumption that forming close bonds through conversations and activities can promote a broad range of positive outcomes while preventing the progression of problems. In fact, according to a large-scale national survey, the most commonly reported mentor activity is “making time to have fun,” followed by talking, engaging in athletic, cultural, and creative activities. To more effectively promote positive youth outcomes, these friendships should be leveraged to deliver culturally-responsive evidence-based interventions that address the significant mental health, behavioral, and educational challenges facing today’s mentees. In this talk, I will synthesize years of research and suggest promising new directions for the field of youth mentoring.