Scroll Top

HILI Highlight: In Focus Mentoring Youth

Screen Shot 2023-01-12 at 3.24.11 PM

In Focus: Mentoring Youth

OJJDP Produced, February 2022. This fact sheet reports on OJJDP funding and technical assistance for youth mentoring programs, which provide participating youth a relationship with a caring adult who can provide the mentee guidance and support. 1 page. NCJ 253045.

Abstract | PDF

The UNITY Peer Guides and Healing Indigenous Lives Initiative is dedicated to spreading awareness of available resources to Native youth to help increase community safety protective factors and reduce youth risky behaviors contributing to juvenile delinquency. 

This IN FOCUS issue, updated in January 2023, reports on the funding and technical assistance being provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) for youth mentoring programs, which provide participating youth a relationship with a caring adult who can provide the youth guidance and support.

When Colby WhiteThunder first joined the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas youth council, he was a “real shy” teen who kept to himself. Now a youth ambassador and mentor to his Tribe’s children, Mr. WhiteThunder says he owes thanks to “almost a tapestry” of people— from his mother, aunts, and uncles to leaders at OJJDP partner UNITY (United National Indian Tribal Youth) and OJJDP’s Tribal Youth Resource Center. Their guidance helped Mr. WhiteThunder identify his strengths, develop confidence, and deepen his identity as a Native person. As an aide for his Tribe’s youth programs, Mr. WhiteThunder knows the kids “watch me, the stuff I do.” He sums up his approach to life simply: “We’re here to be good people, to be kind to one another—to be good stewards of our own families and treat others good.”

OJJDP funds effective mentoring programs and relevant research, evaluation, and training/technical assistance. Along with its partners, OJJDP boosts mentor recruitment, enhances mentor-mentee matches, and increases the number of youths who have mentors. From 2017 through the first half of 2021, OJJDP-funded programs recruited 143,000 new mentors and served over 971,000 youths nationwide. Through the Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative, OJJDP funds one-on-one, group, and peer mentoring services to youth who are at high risk for involvement with the juvenile justice system, including youth impacted by opioids and those on probation. In addition, grants awarded under this program enable mentoring organizations to provide comprehensive support services and interventions for youth who are at risk of or who are victims of child sexual exploitation, domestic sex trafficking, or labor trafficking. Training and technical assistance are provided by the National Mentoring Resource Center. Its free services include resources for best practices, tools, and research.