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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
Improved health outcomes
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).
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 (HFRP 2012, SAMHSA-NREPP, AARP-Experience Corps, JCA-Interages programs).
- MENTOR. Expanding the world of quality mentoring. Accessed on October 7, 2016
- MENTOR. Elements of effective practice for mentoring. Alexandria: MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership; 2016. Accessed on September 29, 2016
Citations - Evidence
- 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
- 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 April 13, 2017
- 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 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 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
- 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
- Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), Encore.org, 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
- Youth.gov (YG), Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). Mentoring: Benefits for young people. Accessed on September 22, 2016
Citations - Implementation
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). AARP Experience Corps. Accessed on October 5, 2016
- Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP). A profile of the evaluation of across ages program: Program description. Accessed on September 22, 2016
- Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington (JCA). Interages programs. Accessed on September 22, 2016
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Accessed on April 12, 2017
Page Last Updated
September 29, 2016
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