Toolkit on Effective Mentoring for Youth
Facing Barriers to Success

Best practices and resources to build, strengthen, evaluate and sustain effective mentoring programs for youth considered at high-risk of under education, unemployment, homelessness, criminalization, and other negative outcomes.

Training Mentees

“You shouldn’t judge at all. You’re meeting someone that’s a stranger. Like, it doesn’t matter how [the mentor] looks, how he presents himself. He’s just a stranger trying to connect with and if that doesn’t click, there you go, find a new one.” (Covenant House Youth Consultation)

StandardYouth Friends

Train prospective mentees in the basic knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to build an effective and safe mentoring relationship using culturally appropriate language and tools.1


**There is less rigorous research on the impact of mentee training and no benchmarks per se were found. Refer to the evidence-informed recommendations below.

 Other Findings

Most mentees are enrolled in a mentoring program by a caring adult and thus may not fully understand what it means to be mentored. By training the mentees, this will prepare them for their first meetings with their mentors; it can alleviate anxiety and help the relationships be initiated in a positive, memorable way.

Understanding the potential benefits of being mentored and setting goals for the relationship can help build motivation in mentees and empower young people to be active contributors to building their mentoring relationship

The program should provide training tailored to mentees age, gender, ethnicity on the following topics:

  1. Purpose of mentoring and how the mentor can help them
  2. Program requirements (e.g., match length, match frequency, duration of visits, protocols for missing or being late to meetings, match termination)
  3. Mentees’ goals for mentoring
  4. Mentors’ obligations and appropriate roles (to avoid unrealistic expectations)
  5. Mentees’ obligations and appropriate roles
  6. Ethics and safety in mentoring relationships
  7. Initiating the mentoring relationship
  8. Effective closure of the mentoring relationship

The program should provide training for the mentee on the following risk management policies that are matched to the program model, setting, and population served:

  1. Appropriate physical contact
  2. Contact with mentoring program (e.g., who to contact, when to contact)
  3. Relationship monitoring requirements (e.g., response time, frequency, schedule)
  4. Approved activities
  5. Mandatory reporting requirements associated with suspected child abuse or neglect, and suicidality and homicidality
  6. Confidentiality and anonymity
  7. Digital and social media use
  8. Overnight visits and out of town travel
  9. Money spent on mentee and mentoring activities
  10. Transportation
  11. Emergency and crisis situation procedures
  12. Health and medical care
  13. Discipline
  14. Substance use
  15. Firearms and weapons
  16. Inclusion of others in match meetings (e.g., siblings, mentee’s friends)
  17. Photo and image use
  18. Evaluation and use of data
  19. Grievance procedures
  20. Other program-relevant topics1, 2

Short, interactive activities work best to keep adolescents and young adults engaged. They should be no more than 30-50 minutes long. Use the lecture format as sparingly as possible and focus on various activities and games. Trainings should be well planned, organized, and clear, as youth can quickly lose interest or become distracted.3, 4

Training New Mentees: A Manual for Preparing Youth in Mentoring:

Fact Sheet: Enriching the Mentoring Experience Through Ongoing Mentee Training:

Ready for Mentoring:

Mentee Training Toolkit: A Guide for Staff:



  1. MENTOR. (2015). Elements of effective practice for mentoring, 4th ed. Retrieved from
  2. Ballasy, L., Fullop, M. & Garringer, M. (2008). Generic mentoring program policy & procedure manual. Portland, OR: The Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence & The National Mentoring Center at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. 
  3. Garringer, M., & MacRae, P. (2008). Building effective peer mentoring programs in schools: An introductory guide. Folsom, CA: Mentoring Resource Center. Retrieved from
  4. The Indiana Youth Institute (2013). Youth Mentoring: Best Practices, Quality Standards and Evidence-Based Model Programs. Indianapolis: The Indiana Youth Institute. 
Funding provided by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services