Youth-Nex Talks

In addition to our Works in Progress TalksBYOLunch & Learns Sessions, and Conferences, each semester we host scholars from outside the School of Education to discuss their research and scholarship.


Jean Rhodes, University of MassachusettsOlder and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

Dr. Jean Rhodes, University of Massachusetts Boston
Friday February 5th, 2021; 12:00-1:30 PM
Co-Sponsored with Education Research Lectureship Series

ATTN STUDENTS: If you are interested in joining a small group discussion after the talk with the speaker, please email [email protected] to register.

Virtual - (no registration required, Zoom Meeting ID is 964 5955 9330 and passcode is YN2021).

Bio: Jean Rhodes is the Frank L. Boyden Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has devoted her career to understanding and advancing the role of intergenerational relationships in the intellectual, social-emotional, educational, and career development of marginalized youth. She has on topics related to positive youth development, the transition to adulthood, and mentoring. Dr. Rhodes is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research and Community Action, as well as a former Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow and Distinguished Fellow of the William T. Grant Foundation. She has been awarded many campus-wide teaching awards for her advances in pedagogy and scholarship, including the the Distinguished Academic Leadership and Outstanding Service to the Students of UMass Boston Award. Rhodes completed her Ph.D. in clinical/community psychology at DePaul University and her clinical internship at the University of Chicago Medical School. Her book, Older and Wiser: New ideas for youth mentoring in the 21st Century (Harvard University Press) was published in August, 2020. 

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 culturaly-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. 


Visit our Talks Archive website for information, video, audio and/or slides from previous Youth-Nex talks.