You should sometimes talk politics and religion: Here’s why

by Jean Rhodes I was presenting findings from my research on Hurricane Katrina to a group of college students when something very interesting happened. Many of the students were first generation Haitian immigrants, others the privileged sons and daughters of Boston’s elite. Still other were first generation college students from Southie and Dorchester, mixed income neighborhoods near […]

A funny thing happened on the way to the Summit

by Jean Rhodes Senator Al Franken addressed a gathering at the Library of Congress last week and shared some good news and a funny story. First the good news. Senator Franken (D, MN) assured the crowd that we will soon see the passage of The Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA), which will enable all programs to access […]

From equal footing to lost ground: How can we achieve stronger effects?

by Jean Rhodes In 1979, a young assistant professor named Joe Durlak published a controversial study in Psychological Bulletin that sent ripples through the field of clinical psychology and provided momentum for what eventually became the mentoring movement. What he sought to do was combine all of the published studies that had compared the outcomes of […]

Nudging through text messages: An evidence-based role for mentors

by Jean Rhodes As the parent of a high school junior, I can’t help but worry about the impending college application process. I try to appear relaxed and good natured during the occasional moments that my son checks in with me, yet my mind is racing. “Yeah,” I casually agree, “Bradley Cooper really should win best actor.” […]

Separating the wheat from the chaff in youth mentoring

by Jean Rhodes Ron Haskins, the co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution recently wrote a New York Times OpEd in which he made a strong case for the use of evaluation and evidence in social programs. As he notes, “Despite decades of efforts and trillions of dollars in spending, rigorous evaluations typically find […]

The problem of the benevolent dolphin: Implications for mentoring

 by Jean Rhodes In their new book, “Mistakes Were Made, But Not by Me,” Carol Travis and Elliot Aronson discuss our how confirmatory biases predispose us toward confirming our preconceptions. In the absence of rigorous, experimental studies, we can easily summon up “evidence” that supports our viewpoints while ignoring contradictory information. This has relevance for mentoring […]

Beyond “how’s it going?”: A new questionnaire assesses mentors’ satisfaction

Rhodes, J., Schwartz, S., & Wu, M. (2014) Validating a Mentoring Relationship Quality Scale: Does Match Strength Predict Match Length. Youth & Society. 1-14 by Jean Rhodes Remarkably few studies have focused on mentors’ experiences in relationships. To address this gap, my colleagues and I designed and validated a mentor-reported measure of relationship quality. The result is a new […]

Learning from the field of work-based mentoring.

For decades, the fields of youth mentoring and work-based mentoring have operated on parallel tracks–covering the same terrain but somehow unaffected by of each other. With few exceptions (e.g., the excellent  Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring, which is edited by Professors Tammy Brown and Lillian Eby), disciplinary boundaries have gotten in the way of learning what others are doing […]

Why relationships matter

 In “The Heart Grows Smarter,”  David Brooks discussed the importance of caring relationships, and cited the classic work of George Vaillant who followed a cohort of Harvard men for many years. As Brooks notes, “It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, “What goes right is more important […]

Why we need to pressure Congress to pass the Child Protection Improvements Act

A volunteer mentor from Odessa, Texas was arrested in July for inappropriate sexual contact with his 15-year-old mentee. What started as a flirtatious text quickly moved to alleged nude photographs and assault. The sad fact is that pedophiles sometimes look to youth-serving organizations as a source of victims. Yet three years after the Jerry Sandusky case brought […]