Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2012, $466,673)
This program seeks to enhance what is understood about mentoring as a prevention strategy for youth who are at risk of involvement or already involved in the juvenile justice system. While mentoring appears to be a promising intervention for youth, more evaluation work is needed to further highlight the components of a mentoring program that are most effective. Research is also needed to demonstrate the specific components of mentoring programs that have a significant impact in reducing juvenile delinquency and offending. This program funds research studies that will inform the design and delivery of mentoring programs. OJJDP expects that the results of this effort will encourage a more effective utilization of resources as well as enhance the implementation of evidence-based best practices for juvenile mentoring. This program is authorized by the Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 2012, Public Law 112-55.
Although available evidence indicates that one-to-one mentoring programs represent a promising intervention strategy for at-risk youth, positive program effects are typically modest in size. Moreover, minimal research has been conducted to identify how enhanced academic program components of mentoring meet the most critical needs for children who are at risk of juvenile justice system involvement. Having served tens of thousands of youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta has a strong track record of success; however, there is a need to identify evidence-based mentoring strategies that are particularly effective at promoting resilience and reducing risk factors associated with juvenile offending. Toward this end, the project will partner with researchers at Georgia State University to assess the impact of their enhanced Mentoring Toward College (MTC) program which provides a specialized curriculum, with a more structured, educational focus for youth, and an intentional role for mentors to empower youth to achieve educational goals. To assess the impact of MTC relative to a standard high-quality mentoring program, the project will implement a rigorous experimental design, with random assignment of youth at risk of future involvement in the juvenile and criminal justice systems, and the administration of pre- and post-test surveys, to assess youth outcomes correlated with juvenile offending.