Most mentoring programs take a non-specific, “friendship” approach. Yet more targeted (i.e., personalized) forms of mentoring are twice as effective!

Targeted and more problem-specific programs had an average effect size that was more than double the average effect size non-specific, friendship-based programs. Targeted programs were three times more effective than non-specific programs in improving academic, psychological, and social functioning. The mood ring feature enables this sort of specification.

The science of targeted mentoring

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  • New findings from the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring January 18, 2023
    By Jean Rhodes For the past decade, my students, colleagues, and I have hosted a workshop at the National Mentoring Summit to report the latest research findings from the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring. Since we’re doing something different this year (more below), we thought it might be helpful to share some of the highlights of […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Reflections on a major new evaluation of community-based mentoring December 1, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes Mentoring experts Carla Herrera, David DuBois, Janet Heubach, and Jean Grossman have just published a major new randomized controlled trial of the effects Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) Community-Based Mentoring (CBM) Program on the social-emotional, behavioral, and academic outcomes of youth. The study included over 700 9- to 14-year-olds who […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • All ears: Four good reasons to take a more targeted approach to mentoring November 11, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes For nearly a century, many mentoring programs have tasked their volunteers with building friendships by being genuinely responsive and engaging in shared activities. A study of nearly 2,000 mentors from thirty nationally representative youth mentoring programs operating across the United States, mentors were asked how they spent time with their mentees (Jarjoura […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Mentoring and politics: Some resources and expert advice November 9, 2022
    by Jean Rhodes Mentors are often instructed to avoid discussing politics.  But, in this political climate, is it even possible or advisable to avoid politics altogether? With the midterms, contested runoffs, and legal battles, and next presidential race saturating the media, many young people want to understand and engage in conversations with their mentors.  Mentoring […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • How the growth mindset shrank: Lessons for the field of youth mentoring October 22, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes In his smart new opinion piece, Stuart Richie describes how the growth mindset idea spread despite the lack of strong evaluation results. As you probably know, the basic idea of growth mindset, is that learners can work hard and improve their ability (e.g., in math). This is typically contrasted with a fixed […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • It’s time to shed light on the “black box” of mentoring programs October 4, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes For the most part, the field of mentoring has not yet specified the precise conditions under which different approaches to mentoring “work.”  Psychologist, Patrick Tolan and his colleagues have argued that the mentoring field’s resistance to identifying, implementing, and adhering to standards, including specifying how program inputs relate to outcomes, stems from […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Untapped potential: New paper argues for deploying mentors to address youth mental health crisis September 8, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes Big Picture The demand for child mental health services vastly exceeds the supply. Fewer than half of young people who need services actually receive treatment, and this gap is expected to widen as rates of mental health problems continue to climb. Mentors can help, particularly if the field more fully embraces what […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Summer memories and a major study on friendship and mobility August 21, 2022
    by Jean Rhodes When I was growing up Allendale, NJ in the 1960’s and 70’s, a family’s social class didn’t define life and determine social mobility the way it does now. Resources varied pretty widely across neighborhoods and families, but Allendale’s 6,000 residents all seemed to know each other. We all spent our long, unscheduled […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Just because: The benefits of reaching out to the people in our lives July 28, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes Findings from an important new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “The Surprise of Reaching Out” highlights the psychological benefits of simply checking in with the people in our lives with brief texts and phone calls. Indeed, these small, casual acts of kindness can have profoundly positive effects. Participants […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Why mentor?: New study has surprising implications for mentor recruitment and retention July 6, 2022
    Jean Rhodes Despite strenuous efforts, many mentoring programs  struggle to recruit enough volunteers for all of the youth who need them.  A major barrier is the fact that, unlike other forms of volunteering, mentoring requires a sustained and relatively intensive  commitment. In some mentoring programs, for example, volunteers are expected to meet with their mentees […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Mentoring + supportive accountability = game changer June 7, 2022
    Jean Rhodes
  • Four ways that mentors can help address the mental health crisis May 18, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes Since the early 1990’s, the major risks facing young people have shifted from physical struggles like teen pregnancy and substance to mental health struggles like anxiety, depression, suicide and self-harm. Indeed,  the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a report noting that “mental health disorders are the most common cause cause of […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Deconstructing “risk” in youth mentoring programs April 24, 2022
    By Cyanea Poon and Jean Rhodes Mentoring programs and researchers often try to get some sense of the “risk factors” facing their mentees. To do so, they often tally up everything from family poverty and marginalization to personal struggles with mental health or friendship.  In a recent study (Poon, Herrera, Jarjoura, Keller, McQuillin, Keller, T., […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • How mentoring programs can help address the youth mental health crisis April 23, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recent released a report warning of a worsening mental health crisis among adolescents. In a recent large survey ( N =7,700), more than 40% of young people reported feeling  “persistently sad or hopeless,” with 20% saying they have contemplated suicide.  As the Deputy Director noted, […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Like compulsive gold miners: Reflecting on five (and counting) new meta-analyses March 29, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes My colleagues and I began conducting meta-analyses of youth mentoring programs around five years ago and we can’t seem to stop. Like compulsive gold miners, we find ourselves returning to this method, again and again, hoping to uncover yet another helpful nugget. A meta-analysis combines the results of multiple evaluations to determine […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Why do some mentoring relationships “click” while others fail? March 12, 2022
    by Jean Rhodes Even the most caring, consistent mentors may struggle to connect with certain youth, while other matches just seem to click from the start. Researchers have found that the quality of adult-youth relationships is conditioned by a wide range of individual, family, and contextual influences, including: 1.  Interpersonal History Children and adolescents who […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • How therapeutic mentoring can help bridge gaps in mental health care March 2, 2022
    By Jean Rhodes An estimated two-thirds U.S. children and adolescents who suffer from mental health problems will never receive professional care. What’s more BIPOC youth are about half as likely as White youth to access services and receive evidence-based care.  As my colleagues and I have argued, the field of mentoring is well-positioned to step […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Introduction to issue sponsored by Along January 19, 2022
    By Ben Houltberg, Ph.D., LMFT (President & CEO of The Search Institute) and Jean Rhodes, Ph.D. (Director of The Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring ) Many of the articles, profiles, and research summaries in this Chronicle issue, sponsored by Along, focus on the importance of teacher-student relationships. They highlight the role of teachers in promoting students’ […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Recent meta-analysis highlights the promise of cross-age peer mentoring January 10, 2022
    by Jean Rhodes Although several meta-analyses of intergenerational mentoring programs have been conducted, my colleagues and I recently conducted the first comprehensive meta-analysis of cross-age peer mentoring programs for youth. Based on the doctoral dissertation of Samantha Burton, Ph.D., the study shows some potentially promising results. Indeed, analyses revealed a medium-sized overall effect of cross-age […]
    Jean Rhodes
  • Building a “Sound Relationship House” in mentoring December 1, 2021
    by Jean Rhodes In his Sound Relationship House Theory, psychologist and marriage guru John Gottman defines the attitudes and skills that lead to strong friendships in marriage, delineating them as the “floors” or principles of good marriage. These align with research on how to build strong “working alliances” with children and adolescents in therapy. These also […]
    Jean Rhodes