For many youth, peer pressure is a constant struggle as they navigate adolescence. But what if the influence of your peers could be channeled for good? At the Taco Bell Foundation, we believe in the power of relationships and mentorship to positively change the lives of young people. This led us to partner with MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to further their vision that every young person has the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop into thriving, productive and engaged adults.
In 2019, we worked with MENTOR to develop a series of impactful personal development workshops for our Live Más Scholarship recipients across the country, which included networking events with LinkedIn. This year, we’re proud to launch the Peer Mentoring Supplement to MENTOR’s Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring. This valuable research highlights the effectiveness of “near peer” mentoring relationships in which older youth and young adults offer their support to those just a few years behind them. Near peer mentoring relationships are especially powerful around educational transitions—such as entering high school or for college access and persistence—and effective entry onto a career path. These relationships have proven to be impactful for the young people serving in the mentoring role as well, as their leadership and communication skills are further developed. Also included in the working group participants was College Advising Corps, a key Foundation partner.
Mike Garringer, Director of Research and Evaluation at MENTOR shares, “The partnership with Taco Bell Foundation has enabled MENTOR to create the type of broadly applicable research-informed guidance that will help peer mentoring programs be even more effective in serving young people. We know that peer mentoring boosts belonging, self-confidence, and competence, and this new guide will help improve the mentoring relationships young people experience in their programs and beyond.”
The Peer Mentoring Supplement offers 57 evidence-informed recommendations that can lead to stronger peer mentoring relationships and program delivery. This resource will be helpful to those working in K-12 spaces, especially school-based programs in which high school or middle school aged youth mentor their younger peers. Much of the content will also be valuable to peer mentoring models focused on the transition into, and persistence in, college.
Key Findings from Research on Peer Mentoring:
- Mentees benefit from a wide range of developmental, social, and academic outcomes (e.g., connectedness to school, increased social support from peers and adults such as teachers, improved attendance and graduation rates).
- Mentors also experience benefits including improvements in leadership skills, stronger communication skills and peer relationships, and a heightened sense of identity and purpose.
- Institutions and organizations that facilitate peer mentoring experience improvements in school climate or retention rates in higher education.
- There’s a clear need for structural supports and adult-led roles that can facilitate the implementation of these programs within their given contexts.