Take a moment to reflect on how you got to where you are today. Hard work, determination, and grit undoubtedly played a part. Some people might think about parents or guardians who encouraged them every step of the way. Many folks will also think about mentors they had throughout their lives—all of the teachers, coaches, bosses, and other supportive adults who provided opportunities and advice.
The fact is, those who have been lucky enough to have a mentor know just how critical it is to have someone in your corner as you figure out your teen years, decide on your postsecondary plans, define your career goals, and navigate your first professional job. Yet, the numbers show that roughly one-third of young people in the United States grow up without a mentor.
As a society, we can’t afford to let this trend continue. Our youth deserve every opportunity in life, and our communities need the next generation prepared to take up the torch. Mentoring provides the building blocks for people to continue making innovative, worthwhile contributions to the world.
That’s exactly why we launched Starfish Initiative. Starfish Initiative offers a unique mentoring program for high school students in Marion County, Indiana. We work exclusively with students enrolled in Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program—a financial aid program designed to help low-income Hoosier students access higher education. By drawing on evidence-based research, including Ruby Payne’s Bridges Out of Poverty framework, Starfish mentors help Starfish mentees effectively prepare for personal and academic success.
But are youth mentoring programs effective? Absolutely! The positive outcomes of mentoring programs like Starfish Initiative speak for themselves. 100% of the students who complete our program graduate high school, and 98% of them go on to enroll in colleges or universities across Indiana and beyond. Both numbers are well above our state average for not only low-income youth but for all Hoosier students. These numbers, and other youth mentoring statistics we’ll share later in this article, illustrate just how crucial mentoring is for today’s youth and for our community at large.
In addition to youth mentoring facts and statistics, this article will explore questions like:
- What exactly is mentoring, and how does it work?
- What are the benefits of effective mentoring?
- What is the impact of mentoring on youth, mentors, employers, and communities?
- How can you get involved with supporting community-based mentoring organizations?
by Shannon Elward