“Little Buddies,” Big Goals: An Evaluation of a Youth Mentoring Program

Hi Tribe! My name is Phoebe Flint and I’m so thrilled to be able to conduct research over the summer with the support of the Charles Center and my advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Raposa. I’m currently studying in Scotland, but I’m looking forward to coming back home to Williamsburg to get started on my project!

I will be investigating the topic of youth mentoring through an evaluation of a nation-wide mentoring program. Programs like these are increasingly utilized as intervention strategies for at-risk youth and beg further exploration. How effective are these programs at achieving their goals and under what circumstances does mentoring incur the greatest benefits for those involved?

Although meta-analyses have demonstrated that mentoring can result in slight gains on measures such as academic performance, problem behavior, and interpersonal relationships, the range and variety of programs makes generalizing these effects difficult. That is why it is so important to take a closer look at them individually.

I will be focusing my research on one particular mentoring program that is national in scope with over 30 active branches at universities across the country. Pairing college students with local elementary-aged children to meet on a weekly basis, the organization aims to build career and educational aspiration in mentees while promoting positive mentoring relationships. The program lasts the course of one academic year.

First, I want to compose an evaluation on how well the program itself fosters positive connections between mentors and mentees as well as look at mentee outcomes on socio-emotional and academic measures. Set apart by the relatively short duration of the program and the use of college-aged mentors, the results provided by this study would have a unique place among existing mentoring research.

Additionally, I want to look at the mediating role relationship quality might play in the success of the program. The relative brief span of the program might magnify the importance of establishing a strong bond in the pairings. Does the quality of the mentoring relationship make up for the potential disadvantages in other areas like duration and mentor experience?

I will be drawing from Dr. Raposa’s ongoing sample from the program. This summer will involve the collection of data from follow-up surveys and conducting my own analyses on the sample. At the end of the project, I will compile my findings in a report to share with the program itself. This evaluation will hopefully inform further programming and practices to maximize the positive impact this organization has on the “little buddies” who participate!

I can’t wait to share my experience and progress with you over the course of the summer!


  1. Sally Nelson says:

    You are perfect for this, Phoebe, and I am thrilled you have this opportunity. Go girl. Love, Bubbie

  2. tabrandon says:

    Youth mentoring is an extremely important topic that deserves to have extensive research! Congratulations on your opportunity to do such amazing research.