Youth Mentoring: What makes it work?

Equity for Children has begun a collaboration with the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD), researching and assessing the effectiveness of its Cornerstone Mentoring Program. This community-based program, established by Mayor Bloomberg’s office in 2011 to help youth in poverty-stricken areas of New York, operates in 25 community centers throughout the City.

The program addresses unemployment, teen parenthood and low rates of graduation by promoting positive change in adolescents and their attitudes toward themselves, others, and their futures. Participants are mostly African-American and Latino boys in the fifth to nine grades. 

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Equity for Children’s partners on this project are undergraduate students of a Civic Engagement Course at the Eugene Lang College, who mentor adolescents at the Cornerstone Mentoring Program, and graduate students in a Practicum in International Affairs (PIA), who provide a data driven assessment of the youth mentor program.

Working with its partners, Equity for Children will review outreach results at four of the community centers. The teams will analyze existing and potential links between those centers and the wider community and its effect on the program’s success. Site visits will include quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews that help determine best practices for on-site coordinators. A review and analysis of the program and its current mentors will provide recommendations for mentor recruitment practices. Additionally, the teams will work to identify potential community partnership sourcing both inside and outside the communities where the centers are located.

Information about the project’s progress will be shared in a blog and in a panel at semester’s end that presents and disseminates project findings.

“Equity for Children has engaged the global community on issues of child poverty, but we continue to believe that within the local context of New York City there are great lessons to be learned about best practices and solutions to the challenges of children in urban settings, ” explained Professor Alberto Minujin, Equity for Children’s Director. “This initiative is an example of a local partnership that will directly address our mission: to advocate for child rights and equity.”

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