New project to explore natural mentoring

By Karene Booker



Mentoring relationships are a powerful tool for helping young people find their way - to higher education, good jobs and other opportunities - especially for youth with fewer family resources. However, we know little about the most common form, natural mentoring,  in which adults act as mentors outside of the context of a program set up for that purpose. Now, a new project, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, aims to help close this knowledge gap.“Fostering natural mentoring is a promising approach to increasing mentoring for the youth who need it most,” said principal investigator Stephen Hamilton, professor of human development and associate director for youth development at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

Through survey research, the project will shed light on the roles mentors play for youth (supporting, modeling, connecting, and guiding), how these roles are linked to the background and outcomes of the youth, and how to foster natural mentoring, Hamilton said.

The $25,000 project got underway in December 2013 and will continue through June 2014.  Mary Agnes Hamilton, senior research associate at the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, and David DuBois at the University of Illinois at Chicago, are Co-PIs on the project. The research will involve youth from two schools in California - High Tech High, a charter school in San Diego and a YouthBuild program in Lennox.

Karene Booker is an extension support specialist in the Department of Human Development.

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