- Traditional mentoring models may need to be modified and updated to best support racialized youth. Mentoring programs should ensure youth are learning culturally and racially appropriate coping skills, which can help in developing a positive ethnic and racial identity.1, 4, 5
- Mentor matching for racialized youth is a contentious issue – some believe that cross-race matching may result in further marginalization, whereas others believe that shared values and interests are more important than shared racial identities. When matching racialized youth, the following factors should be considered:
- What preferences does the mentee and mentee’s family have for matching?
- Does the mentee have same-race role models elsewhere?
- What is the mentee’s level of cultural mistrust? How can you support them in exploring discrimination and oppression?
- Does the mentee have a strong ethnic identity?
- What is the cultural competency of the mentor and the organization?4
- Programs should be open to engaging mentors from various backgrounds and experiences, including those who may have been through hard times and are interested in taking a strong leadership role with youth. Additional training may be required for these individuals.7
Here is a Body Map of racialized youth prepared by participants (service providers) during a training day by the Ontario Mentoring Coalition.
Existing Tools & Resources
Since they originate from the United States, most resources on mentoring racialized youth refer to African Americans in particular.
Recruiting & retaining African American male mentors:
Ten strategies for recruiting African American male mentors:
Effective Mentoring for Racialized Youth
Standards & Good Practices
(linked to positive outcomes for participants)
Other Pertinent Info
(from other studies & reports)
Program Implementation Strategies
|Mentoring programs that have components specifically tailored to participants’ culture can facilitate positive ethnic and racial identity formation.4
Using a strengths-based approach is preferable when working with racialized youth.10
|Minority youth are less likely to have natural mentors and thus may be in greater need for formal mentoring programs.1
Youth perception of teacher support, school belonging, and decision-making has been found to improve with mentoring. Mentoring was also found to limit involvement with school discipline system.6
Mentor Recruitment, Screening & Selection
|10 Strategies for recruiting Black men to be mentors:
Advocacy is a key skill for mentors and can result in more effective programming.1
Provide cultural competency training for mentors to help mentors in developing empathy for their mentees.2, 4
|Ex-prisoners can be excellent mentors because they have “street cred” and may be passionate about working with Black men. Specialized training may be needed if they will be involved with formal mentoring.7
Barriers to Black males becoming mentors:
Cultural competency is not static and thus mentors can learn and enhance their skills over time.4
|When deciding about whether to do a same-race or cross-race match, consider these factors:
Mentors who share life experiences with their mentees may be seen as more credible and thus developing relationships with their mentees may be easier. For racialized mentees, it is more important that the mentor has cultural competency rather than be of the same race. This can help the mentee develop a strong ethnic identity, which can help combat barriers and systemic oppression due to race.1, 2
Program staff can support cross-race matches by:
|One study by Rhodes (2002) found that of 476 youth mentoring relationships (most of which were from racialized groups) found very few differences between same race and cross race matches.7 Additionally, varying results have been found about whether having practitioners with the same ethnic background impacts outcomes.4
Youth perception of a mentor’s similarity in values and interests are more strongly related to positive mentoring experiences.3, 4
The following arguments provide support for same-race matching:
Conversely, research has found support for cross-race matching:
Match Supervision, Support & Retention
|Providing mentors and supporters with compensation can help with mentor retention and increase capacity and outcomes.7, 10|
Mentoring Black Boys
|Programs shown to be effective for working with Black boys focus on improving the future of the youth- e.g., focus on education, employment goals, leadership skills, incorporating African languages/ symbols, etc.1, 10
The role of Black women in mentoring programs for boys should be encouraged and recognized.10
Work with existing advocates to refer youth to mentoring and support the process once they are enrolled.12
|Traditional mentoring models may not be most appropriate for Black boys. Black youth could benefit from building culturally and racially appropriate coping skills to help reduce the effects of discrimination.1, 5
Black youth in care may require special attention due to the lack of public role models from their community.1
Mentoring programs for Black youth often require more funding than traditional mentoring programs and due to funding constraints many youth who need support may not receive it.1
Miller (2008) included quotations from key leaders in mentoring for Black youth:
- Jarjoura, G. R. (2013). Effective strategies for mentoring African American boys. American Institutes of Research: Human and Social Development. Retrieved from http://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/Effective%20Strategies%20for%20Mentoring%20African%20American%20Boys.pdf
- MENTOR. (2015). Elements of effective practice for mentoring, 4th ed. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/new-site/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Final_Elements_Publication_Fourth.pdf
- Liang, B., & West, J. (2007). Do race and ethnicity really matter? Research in Action: Youth Mentoring, (9). Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_390.pdf
- Sánchez, B., Colón-Torres, Y., Feuer, R., Roundfield, K. E., & Berardi, L. (2005). Race, ethnicity, and culture in mentoring relationships. In D. DuBois, & M. Karcher (Eds.), The SAGE Program on Applied Developmental Science: Handbook of youth mentoring (pp. 191-205). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
- Gordon, D. M., Iwamoto, D., Ward, N., Potts, R., & Boyd, E. (2009). Mentoring urban Black middle-school male students: Implications for academic achievement. Journal of Negro Education, 78(3), 277-289.
- Holt, J., Bry, B. H., & Johnson, V. L. (2008). Enhancing school engagement in at-risk, urban minority adolescents through a school-based adult mentoring intervention. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 30(4), 297-318.
- Miller, D. (2008). Man up: Recruiting & retaining African American male mentors. Urban Leadership Institute. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1127.pdf
- Rhodes, J. (2002). Mentoring and race. Mentor: National Mentoring Partnership. Retrieved from http://www.mentoring.org/downloads/mentoring_1320.pdf
- Rhodes, J. E., Reddy, R., Grossman, J. B., & Lee, J. M. (2002). Volunteer mentoring relationships with minority youth: An analysis of same- versus cross-race matches. Journal of Applied Psychology, 32(10), 2114-2133.
- Watson, J., Washington, G., & Stepteau-Watson, D. (2015). Umoja: A culturally specific approach to mentoring young African American males. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 32, 81-90.
- Dove, S., & Mbonisi, M. (2007). Ten strategies for recruiting African American male mentors. The Technical Assistance and Training Program for Mentoring System-Involved Youth. Retrieved from http://msiy.edc.org/resources/MSIY%20Publications/MSIY_10%20Tips%20for%20Recruiting%20AfricanAmerican%20Male%20Mentors.pdf
- Urban Youth. (2013). Unlimited: A “lessons learned” guide from what it takes e-mentoring with African American males. Philadelphia, PA: Urban Youth.