Ways Mentoring Can Empower and Shape Youth Now and In The Future

Tabitha D. James – Strategist, Author, Mentor, Speaker

Mentoring, formal or informal, has the ability to transform the life trajectory of youth despite ethnicity, socioeconomic status, academic credentials, and other classifying metrics. The Mentoring Effect Report developed by the National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) defines a mentor as a supportive adult who works with a young person to build a relationship by offering guidance, support, and encouragement to help the young person’s positive and healthy development over a period of time. Mentor-mentee relationships can be developed organically by way of school, community, faith-based communities, and similar or formally by way of structured mentoring programs. Either format can cultivate trust-based relationships that ultimately serve as a basis for long-term positive results for the young person. 

Six-in-ten adults under 30 say most people “can’t be trusted. These trust issues are directly correlated to the relationships built during their formative years with adults in their lives. The parents/family, teachers, other caregivers, mentors, and coaches (if applicable) young people engage with impart lasting impressions on overall life, both positive and negative. Mentors often serve as one of, if not the only, trusted adult in the life of a young person. Youth with mentors have increased high school completion rates, are less likely to engage in drugs and alcohol at an early age, and reportedly have enhanced self-esteem and confidence over time in comparison to youth without mentors. 

Statistics show that over time, youth who had engaged and emotionally available mentors during middle and/or high school are more likely to achieve their personal definitions of success, have higher salaries in comparison to those who did not have mentors, and ultimately become mentors to young people and/or entry-level professionals in their industries. These statistics provide validity to the need for healthy mentoring throughout the lifespan of humans as it ultimately has the ability to shift subsets of society-at-largest large, especially those that have been traditionally marginalized.

As a mentee, mentor, and the founder of a mentoring program created explicitly for high-achieving black girls from rural areas; I have several personal, timely, and relevant testimonies to accompany shared statistics. With over 15 years of direct mentoring experience, the positive impacts on my own life are numerous, and I can honestly attest that formal and informal mentoring shifted my life trajectory. Because of empathic, realistic, and accountability-driven mentors, I have been able to travel across the United States and beyond doing what I love, network intentionally across industries, and pivot purposefully when needed. As a mentor, I feel fulfilled helping mentees navigate through life transitions and ultimately tap into their intrinsic greatness. 

“True leaders do not simply lead; they also unconsciously empower others to do the same.” Tabitha D. James





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