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Intergenerational mentoring

Health Factors: Family & Social Support
Decision Makers: Educators Employers & Businesses Healthcare Professionals & Advocates Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 20-49% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Intergenerational mentoring programs establish a relationship between an older adult and an at-risk child or adolescent. Intergenerational mentoring programs can be based in schools, community centers, or faith-based organizations.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased self-esteem
Improved health outcomes
Reduced isolation
Increased academic achievement
Reduced delinquent behavior
Improved social emotional skills

Evidence of Effectiveness

Intergenerational mentoring is a suggested strategy to increase mentors’ sense of self-worth, accomplishment, and well-being (YG-Mentoring, CDC-Thornton 2002, SCL 2016, PIRE-Thompson 2014). Older adults who participate in intergenerational mentoring programs become part of a network of volunteers and develop meaningful relationships with their mentee(s) (YG-Mentoring). Available evidence suggests that intergenerational mentoring can also improve social connectedness, physical and mental health, functioning, and self-esteem for mentors (PIRE-Thompson 2014, Glass 2004). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Intergenerational mentoring can improve participating youth’s attitudes toward aging and older adults, increase academic achievement and social development, and decrease substance use and school absences (PIRE-Thompson 2014). Overall, mentoring programs increase positive educational outcomes for participants (Campbell-Wilson 2011) and appear to reduce delinquent behavior for youth at risk of delinquency (Campbell-Tolan 2013, DuBois 2011).  

Successful intergenerational mentoring relationships involve matching individual mentor’s strengths and resources with the needs of potential mentees, incorporating youths' perspective, and supporting youth-driven interactions (SCL 2016, PIRE-Thompson 2014). Older adults’ life experience and emotional stability prepare them well to advise at-risk youth (SCL 2016, PIRE-Thompson 2014).


United States

Many intergenerational mentoring programs exist across the country. For example, Across Ages, which started in Philadelphia, PA and now has over 50 sites, Experience Corps, which is in sixteen states and Washington DC, and Intergenerational Bridges in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC (YG-Across Ages, AARP-Experience Corps, JCA-Interages programs). 

Implementation Resources

MENTOR - MENTOR. Expanding the world of quality mentoring. Accessed on October 7, 2016
MENTOR 2016 - MENTOR. Elements of effective practice for mentoring. Alexandria: MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership; 2016. Accessed on September 29, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Campbell-Tolan 2013 - Tolan P, Henry D, Schoeny M, et al. Mentoring interventions to affect juvenile delinquency and associated problems: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2013:9. Accessed on October 7, 2016
Campbell-Wilson 2011 - Wilson SJ, Tanner-Smith EE, Lipsey MW, Steinka-Fry KT, Morrison J. Dropout prevention and intervention programs: Effects on school completion and dropout among school-aged children and youth: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2011:8. Accessed on January 10, 2018
CDC-Thornton 2002 - Thornton TN. Strategies to prevent youth violence: Social-cognitive strategy. In Chapter 2 of: Craft CA, Dahlberg LL, Lynch BS, Baer K, eds. Best practices of youth violence prevention: A sourcebook for community action. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 2002:119-207. Accessed on October 7, 2016
DuBois 2011* - DuBois DL, Portillo N, Rhodes JE, Silverthorn N, Valentine JC. How effective are mentoring programs for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence. Psychological Science Public Interest. 2011;12(2):57-91. Accessed on October 3, 2016
Glass 2004* - Glass TA, Freedman M, Carlson MC, et al. Experience corps: Design of an intergenerational program to boost social capital and promote the health of an aging society. Journal of Urban Health. 2004;81(1):94-105. Accessed on September 22, 2016
PIRE-Thompson 2014 - Thompson KT, PIRE team. Intergenerational mentoring and the benefits of mentoring for older adults. Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) Louisville Center: 2014. Accessed on October 3, 2016
SCL 2016 - Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL),, David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Hidden in plain sight: How intergenerational relationships can transform our future. Stanford Center on Longevity: 2016. Accessed on October 5, 2016
YG-Mentoring - (YG), Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). Mentoring: Benefits for young people. Accessed on September 22, 2016

Citations - Implementation

AARP-Experience Corps - American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). AARP Experience Corps. Accessed on November 14, 2018
JCA-Interages programs - Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington (JCA). JCA Heyman Interages Center: Interages programs. Accessed on November 14, 2018
YG-Across Ages - (YG). Across Ages. Accessed on November 14, 2018

Page Last Updated

September 29, 2016

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