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Mentoring Month and the Power of a Single Caring Adult

16 January 2020 |

 January is National Mentoring Month in the US, and with the new year comes an excellent opportunity to begin, build, or grow positive mentoring relationships for youth in your schools and programs. For those who have read Homer’s Greek epic The Odyssey (possibly not since your own school days), Mentor is known as the close friend of Odysseus who is responsible for Telemachus, Odyssesus’ son, during his long voyage and the Trojan War. Perhaps a bit closer to our modern applications, a mentor is simply an experienced and trusted advisor, guide, or friend.


Positive relationships are fundamental to positive youth development, and providers play an important role in both serving as mentors themselves, and linking youth with opportunities for mentorship through school based or out of school time programs. Community volunteers, athletic coaches, faith-based leaders, parents of grown children, and retirees are excellent pools of potential mentors, with lived experiences to share.

Research shows that “every child who winds up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult”. Mentoring provides an avenue for young people to form those key relationships that lead to better outcomes. Artist Josh Shipp shares his own story of the power of a single caring adult along with some excellent advice about forming connections and building trust.

It is not necessary to enroll youth into a formal program in order to access mentors, as research shows that most mentoring (71%) happens informally. However, it is important to always ensure that the adults working with young people are vetted in some way when mentoring does happen through a structured program.

Research shows that mentoring is beneficial to youth and adults alike. Are there opportunities for mentorship in your community? Are you aware of an excellent mentoring program doing great work for young people? We would love to hear more about them.

Youth Benefits of Mentoring

Adult Benefits of Mentoring

  • Increased high school graduation rates
  • Lower high school dropout rates
  • Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
  • Better attitude about school
  • Higher college enrollment rates and higher educational aspirations
  • Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Improved behavior, both at home and at school
  • Stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers
  • Improved interpersonal skills
  • Decreased likelihood of initiating drug and alcohol use


  • Increased self-esteem
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Creation of networks of volunteers
  • Insight into childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood
  • Increased patience and improved supervisory skills
  • Increased feelings of community



*“Mentoring Benefits for Young People.”, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 20AD.

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