Group Mentoring Supplement to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™

By MENTOR, Reprinted from the Introduction (“Tips for Using This Resource” Section)

This Supplement to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring will be most useful to those starting group mentoring programs, as well as to those who are looking to strengthen their existing services. The recommendations included in the next section, from Recruitment through Closure, offer research- and practice-informed recommendations that should help group mentoring programs implement effective services beyond just adhering to the generic practices suggested in the original EEPM. We encourage those who are building programs from scratch to also focus on the Program Design Considerations provided at the beginning of the next section, as those major themes and considerations were clearly the most prominent factors in program success (or struggle) in both the literature we read and in the opinion of our Working Group of experts.

If you are not familiar with the structure and content of the original Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, we encourage you to review the baseline practices suggested in that resource so that you can better understand the additional recommendations of this resource. The recommendations for group mentoring offered here are slotted into the original framework of the EEPM so that practitioners can clearly see where group models require more attention or different approaches to traditional one-to-one programs. Where possible, we have noted when certain recommendations are more or less applicable to certain group mentoring programs based on their setting, match structure, goals, and activities, or other specific features. But in general, the colored recommendations will provide critical advice to group mentoring programs of all types.

For those who want to go deeper in their understanding of group mentoring practices, there is a Justification and Discussion section that highlights key themes and associated practices for managing a successful group mentoring program. This section discusses the recommendations in more detail and offers examples from the research and literature reviewed that support the suggested practices.

Programs are encouraged to implement as many of the core Benchmarks and Enhancements of the EEPM as possible. There is always room to improve or strengthen the delivery of any program. But we feel that following the recommendations here will be helpful to any mentoring program that is:

  • Matching groups of youth with one or more mentors
  • Using a group activity format for the activities of mentor-mentee pairs
  • Hoping to use peer-to-peer interactions to supplement the guidance and support offered by adult mentors

MENTOR hopes these recommendations help group mentoring programs improve their services and provide youth with meaningful adult and peer interactions. If there is one thing that stood out from all the research reviewed and conversations about quality group mentoring from our time putting this resource together, it’s that these programs have a unique ability to help youth feel a sense of belonging, togetherness, and even “family,” which is often fleeting in the institutions they engage in every day. Group mentoring appears to be a powerful way of providing youth with a sense of community, with a cohort of caring peers and adults that they might never have found connections with otherwise. These personal connections can be applied to address myriad needs and challenges — everything from academic struggles to processing trauma to improving interpersonal skills — but what is at the core of all these programs is a sense of belonging and togetherness that often exceeds or expands our common understanding of mentoring as a bidirectional intervention. MENTOR hopes that group mentoring models continue to thrive and that this resource can help define and promote quality programming.

To access the post about this discussion, please click here.