Why Mentoring?

Mentoring guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter.

Mentoring builds strong and healthy brains, and connects young people to resources that engage them in activities and relationships to support their growth and continued well-being. 

Science tells us that interactions with supportive adults build critical neural connections in the developing brain. Young people who have healthy, supportive relationships with adult mentors often do better in school, are better able to deal with bullies and stressful situations, and gain the social-emotional skills they need to be successful. Open and trusting relationships with mentors help young people gain a sense of belonging by building self-confidence as they learn new skills and passions.

Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet one in three young people will grow up without this critical asset.

The Benefits of Being Mentored

Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, stay in school, and engage in their communities.

By being a consistent adult presence in a young person’s life, mentors can offer advice, share life their experiences, and help a young person navigate challenges.

​A study showed that the strongest benefit from mentoring, and most consistent across risk groups, was a reduction in depressive symptoms — particularly noteworthy given that almost one in four youth reported worrisome levels of these symptoms at baseline. Mentoring also promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them. (The Role of Risk, 2013)

One study estimates that the human potential lost as a result of the educational achievement gap is the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. By preparing young people for college and careers, mentoring helps develop the future workplace talent pipeline (Mentoring: At the crossroads of education, business and community, 2015). 

Critical Mentoring

While it is critically important to ensure that youth have access to resources and opportunities that support their growth and development, one must also consider the societal context in which young people, in particular youth of color, are forced to deal with complex life challenges that systematically strips them of power and agency on a daily basis.

Critical Mentoring, a term coined by scholar-practitioner Dr. Torie Wieston-Serdan, disrupts savorism models that exist in traditional mentoring programs and considers how race, class, gender, sexuality, and other identities impact how youth experience the world and mentoring relationships. Undergirded by critical race theory, cultural competence, and intersectionality, the framework offers mentors and mentoring practitioners a transformational reimagining of what equitable mentoring relationships look like and the impact they can foster in our larger society.

MENTOR North Carolina is committed to supporting programs that both examine and disrupt systems, with a focus on building the capacity to train mentors, deepen mentoring program impact, and better serve young people in their communities.