Mentoring is a youth development strategy to carve a path of success for a young person on their journey to adulthood. Mentoring programs are designed to pair a supportive adult with a young person to foster positive, healthy development. The individual cultivates a positive relationship with the young person to guide and support them in their lives, often times focusing on the areas of academics, career preparation and behavior modification.
Mentoring programs also tend to be designed to benefit youth perceived to be at risk in areas of their life such as school, jobs and juvenile justice. The risk factors include, but are not limited to, being disconnected from school and/or work; lagging in academic achievement; lacking positive role models; being involved in the justice system; and transitioning out of foster care.
Those who study youth development look to both external factors that affect youth (environment) and internal factors within the youth (personal attributes) that contribute to their positive growth. Richard Lerner and his colleagues have also emphasized the importance of examining the interaction of person and environment to understand more completely how youth develop.
Great progress has been made over the last decade to reach an 80 percent graduation rate, but for the one in five students still not graduating on time, more hard work is required to achieve the GradNation goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. For that reason, America’s Promise Alliance presents this paper that illustrates how national service is making a positive impact on young people and closing the graduation gap – from early literacy through high school graduation and beyond. Emerging evidence, described in this white paper, tells us that national service works.
The aptly named Division Avenue remains a demarcation line between predominantly white and predominantly black neighborhoods—and a stark reminder of the city’s segregated past.
In the beginning of the 21st century, approximately 73 percent of children and youth in Parramore, Orlando’s historically African American neighborhood, lived below the poverty line, with alarmingly high rates for child abuse and neglect. The neighborhood’s high school had received five consecutive Fs on its performance, and only 66 percent of youth graduated from it during the 2007-08 academic year. Teen girls were more likely than girls in the rest of the city to become mothers, and the juvenile arrest rate in Parramore was 250 percent higher than the rate for Orlando overall.
“Don’t Call Them Dropouts,” a report by America’s Promise Alliance based on research conducted by its Center for Promise at Tufts University, was funded by Target. In the largest nationwide study of its kind to date, young adults who left high school without graduating spoke at length about their experiences and the reasons they did not complete high school on time. As the nation reaches the all-time high of an 80 percent on-time high school graduation rate, this report listens deeply to what the remaining 20 percent say is happening in their lives, and what they need to stay in school.