Mentoring programs for at risk youth have existed for over 100 years. The most famous of these are the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organizations. Recent research examining the impact of these types of programs on participating youth has indicated the following:
• In Calgary, there was a 75% improvement in school grades and attendance and 90% improvement in social skills with peers. Also, over 80% were gainfully employed after 10 years compared with a control group where 65% were in receipt of social assistance;
• In California, there was a 46% reduction in the initiation of drug use, and a 27% reduction in the initiation of alcohol use. Over 59% of the youth improved their grades, and 52% reported an improved ability to stay out of trouble;
• A study across the United States found the quality of the relationships with family was significantly better for the youth;
• There was a 31% reduction in violence among the youth involved in a mentoring program; and,
• A study completed on delinquent girls showed that 80% involved in the program did not re-offend.
•As can be seen there is tremendous value in the mentoring relationship. The following pages will help the volunteer to be an effective mentor for at risk youth.