Why it’s so important to consider youth’s capacity for connection

by Jean Rhodes In a study of successful, long-term mentoring relationships, Renee Spencer pinpointed the precise turning point in the relationship between 14 year old Alana and Alana’s diehard mentor, Stacy (Spencer, Levine, & Rhodes, 2017). Early mistreatment had shattered Alana’s capacity to forge trusting bonds, and she’d grown adept at forcing relationships to their […]

What an unexpected diagnosis can tell us about mentoring

by Jean Rhodes None of the specialists at the U. of Chicago medical center could pinpoint the source of Phil’s chronic back pain. Months of appointments, batteries of tests, and several unsuccessful treatments had culminated in a referral to the psychiatry department’s pain management clinic where I was a clinical psychology intern. Sometimes patients were […]

The future of mentoring: An infographic

by Jean Rhodes I recently worked with a talented team at the MacArthur Foundation Connected Learning Research Network to develop an infographic on youth mentoring (below). In essence, I argue that the number of Americans willing to serve as volunteer mentors has remained remarkably stable over the past decade — between 2 million and 2.5 million, or […]

What can data from 6,500 matches tell us about mentoring relationships?: Important insights from a new study

by Jean Rhodes The length of mentoring relationships is one of the  most important indicators of positive change in youth. In analyses of data from random assignment studies of both school and community mentoring programs, my colleagues and I have found that effects on youth outcomes grow stronger as relationships persist for longer periods of time. There […]

Three ways to build a “Sound Relationship House” in mentoring

by Jean Rhodes In his Sound Relationship House Theory, psychologist and marriage guru John Gottman defines the attitudes and skills that lead to strong friendships in marriage, delineating them as the “floors” or principles of good marriage. Many apply well to a range of friendships, including mentorships. In the following sections, three core principles of his theory […]

What a wildly improbable movie can teach us about mentoring

by Jean Rhodes In the comedy, Role Models, two self-absorbed salesmen, Danny and Wheeler, are arrested following a road rage incident and elect to perform community service hours over going to jail. They are assigned to work at a mentoring program where Danny is paired with a nerdy role-playing game enthusiast while Wheeler finds himself […]

Predicting the future of mentoring programs

by Jean Rhodes I predict that formal mentoring programs will become increasingly specialized, professionalized, and evidence-based in the years ahead. This is a positive development, particularly given that our field’s two most important barometers of success—the number of adults willing to serve as volunteer mentors and the effectiveness of these efforts—have not changed in the past […]

Want to help more children? Stop being so empathic!

By Jean Rhodes Most fund-raising events for mentoring programs follow a familiar script. After the mingling and announcements, a mentor and mentee are beckoned to the podium. The mentor describes in poignant detail the many stressors in her mentee’s life; the mentee expresses gratitude for the loving support and guidance she received. By the time the […]

The “warm-glow” theory of giving to others: Implications for mentoring programs

by Jean Rhodes Why do people give their precious time and resources to strangers? Is it pure altruism or are there other motivational forces at work? This is an intriguing question that has implications for our efforts to encourage volunteerism and charitable donations. Fortunately, a growing number of scholars have focused on non-profit organizations as an […]

“I have seen the power of mentoring firsthand”: Hillary Clinton on the mentors who changed her life

by Jean Rhodes “At a time when there seems to be so little that people agree on, this is one mission worthy of bipartisan, broad-based support.” Hillary Clinton It’s hard to imagine that the political acrimony (and insanity) that has defined this year’s presidential election could get any worse. Understandably, there’s a strong urge to tune it […]