Moving America Forward

16 Million Young Americans Grow Up Without This Vital Service

January 17, 2014
16 Million Young Americans Grow Up Without This Vital Service
Woman from various walks of life, including English comedian Jenny Eclair (center) take part in a mentoring session with girls from Gumley House Convent School in Isleworth on October 11, 2013 in London, England. Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
From better behavior to completing college, here's a proven strategy for helping kids succeed.

Improved school attendance and performance; a stronger desire to seek a college education; smarter decision-making–these are the benefits that mentoring provides to young people, according to a new survey released by Boston-based nonprofit MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

The report, released for January’s National Mentoring Month, is the first nationally representative survey on the topic. The results were drawn from conversations with 1,109 young adults (ages 18-21) half of which were considered “at-risk.” Although the report found that mentoring provides positive outcomes, many young people lack adult guidance in their lives. According to the poll, one in three young adults will reach 19 without having a mentor. On a national scale, that’s approximately 16 million youths, including 9 million deemed at-risk.

So here’s why we need more mentors if we want stronger leaders and healthier communities: As Education Week highlighted from the survey, 76 percent of at-risk young adults who have been mentored said they are more likely to seek a college education, versus 56 percent who haven’t been mentored. Mentored youth were also more eager to participate in sports or extracurricular activities at school.

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The survey is proof that mentoring can leave a lasting and positive impact on kids. Even better, there’s evidence that it’s a growing trend. An estimated 4.5 million young people are in a structured mentoring relationship today, a jump from an estimated 300,000 in the early 1990s. And according to the survey, nearly nine in ten respondents said they wanted to become mentors themselves. The more we help kids succeed, the more they can help future generations.