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Older and Wiser: New Ideas for Youth Mentoring in the 21st Century

Written by Jean E. Rhodes

Narrated by Lee Ann Howlett

Duration 5 hours and 3 minutes

Youth mentoring is one of the most popular forms of volunteering in the world today, but does it work? Drawing on over 30 years of research and her own experience in the field, Jean Rhodes reveals that most mentoring programs fail to deliver what young people actually need. Many prioritize building emotional bonds between mentors and mentees. But research shows that effective programs go far beyond this, developing specific social, emotional, and intellectual skills.

Most mentoring programs rely on volunteers, who rarely have the training to teach these skills. Their one-size-fits-all models struggle to meet the diverse needs of mentees, and rarely take account of the psychological effects of poverty on children. Rhodes doesn’t think we should give up on mentoring—far from it. Instead, she recommends “organic” mentorship opportunities—in schools, youth sports leagues, and community organizations—and shares specific approaches that can spark meaningful change in young people’s lives.


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