Methods: This study was a secondary data analysis of the Mentoring Enhancement Demonstration Program dataset, focusing on a subset of 1,700 11- to 14-year-old youth who participated in one-on-one community-based mentoring. Youth were 54.8% female and ethnically/racially diverse. The independent variable was mentor-reported connecting behaviors (e.g., “Introducing my mentee to interesting or influential adults in the community”). Dependent variables (parent relationship quality, number of school/community activities, and number of special adults) were reported by youth prior to being matched and at a one-year follow-up. Multilevel regression analyses were conducted, controlling for gender, age, and race.
Results: Youth reported moderately positive parent relationships at baseline (G00 = 3.50, t = 81.87, p < .001), with increases at follow-up (G10 = .06, t = 3.07, p = .002). Mentor connecting significantly predicted improvements in parent relationship quality (G11 = .06, t = 2.79, p = .005). Similarly, number of school/community activities increased from 1.74 to 2.03 from baseline to follow-up (G10 = .29, t = 5.03, p < .001). Interestingly, mentor connecting was significantly related to the number of activities youth reported at baseline (G01 = -.11, t = -2.46, p < .014), suggesting that mentors provided more connecting for less involved youth. Mentor connecting significantly predicted changes in the number of youth’s activities, such that youth with high connecting behaviors demonstrated significant increases in number of activities, whereas those with low connecting behaviors demonstrated decreases in number of activities (G11 = .36, t = 6.03, p < .001). However, no significant impacts were detected for connecting behaviors on youth-reported number of special adults.
Conclusions: Connecting behaviors in mentoring may contribute to more positive youth relational and engagement outcomes. Implications for research and practice will be discussed.