Mentor Monday – Determining the success of a match

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey (YOS) was developed by three of the top mentoring researchers in the country.

Mentor Monday is brought to you by Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Ohio.

The YOS is administered to youth within a month before they are matched and then at the end of the school year for School-based matches. It is then administered on a yearly basis for the length of the mentoring relationship.

The Youth Outcomes Survey examines seven dimensions of the mentoring relationship:

  • Academic Performance/Grades
  • Attitudes towards Risky Behaviors
  • Educational Expectations
  • Family Connectedness/Parental Trust
  • Juvenile Justice System Involvement
  • Presence of a Special/Very Important Adult (other than parent/guardian)
  • Social Acceptance/Competence

These measures have been found to be reliable and valid and have been used in previous youth development research. For example:

  • Academic Performance: Better academic performance in elementary and middle school boosts the chances of graduating from high school (Baltimore Education Research Consortium, 2011).
  • Educational Expectations: A study of low-income Chicago students found that students’ expectations of attending college double the probability of high school graduation (Ou and Reynolds, 2008).
  • Family Trust: Parental relationships have been associated with improved grades and attendance, as well as reduced substance abuse (Rhodes, Reddy, and Grossman, 2005).
  • Social competence is associated with many positive benefits. These include improved mental health, academic achievement, employment history, and adult relationships (Vandell et al., 2013).

All of these factors increase a student’s chances of graduating from high school. In addition, besides having strong support from mentoring research, this outcome measure has baseline data that can be used for later comparison. In other words, we are able to see the direct effect mentoring has on the mentored youth.

Our agency has consistently exceeded our goals for Youth Outcomes Survey results. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of Tuscarawas County youth in our School-based Mentoring programs who completed baseline and follow-up Youth Outcomes Surveys in 2018-19 reported improving or consistently maintaining at least three of the seven outcome areas.

  • 90% improved or consistently maintained in their grades/academic performance.
  • 97% improved or consistently maintained in their educational expectations.
  • 97% improved or consistently maintained in their level of family connectedness / parental trust.
  • 97% improved or consistently maintained in their sense of social acceptance.

Our agency employs a Strength of Relationship survey for all matches involving youth ages nine and older. This survey is administered to mentors and youth three months after the mentoring relationship begins, and again at the end of the first year. The survey is used to evaluate whether the mentor and youth are developing a close relationship. If the survey reveals that the relationship needs help, the match support specialist can provide suggestions and encouragement to the mentor to build the relationship. The Strength of Relationship survey is a useful tool for building long-lasting mentoring relationships that result in positive outcomes for youth.

Our agency is always happy to share success stories as we see the data behind our outcomes play out in real-time. One great example is our match between Little Brother Trevor and Big Brother Roberto.

Trevor has been matched with Big Brother, Roberto, since November 2017. Trevor was referred to the program by school staff due to needing assistance in multiple areas, such as school performance, behavior, and social skills. Trevor displayed behavioral issues when first starting in the program but has since shown growth in this area through having Roberto to role model appropriate behavior and provide him with guidance. Roberto engages in hands-on activities with Trevor, and the match is very engaged during the program. Roberto and Trevor have found similar interests and have bonded over these.

Roberto is always willing to participate in new activities with Trevor, and Trevor likes to bring items from the home to show Roberto, such as cars and robots. Roberto always takes an interest in what Trevor has to show or tell him, and this has helped the match develop their relationship. Roberto and Trevor meet consistently, and having a dependable, male figure to spend time with has been beneficial to Trevor. Roberto assists Trevor with schoolwork during the program. Trevor has shown improvements in being able to focus on schoolwork, and his grades have begun to improve. Roberto shows patience when interacting with Trevor, and this has helped Trevor become comfortable in the program and in the match relationship. Trevor has built self-confidence over the past two years while participating in his match with his Big. Roberto encourages Trevor to interact with others Bigs and Littles during the program, and Trevor has shown more of a willingness to do so.

He has even made new friends in the program. Roberto models positive social interactions for Trevor and reminds him to be kind to others. Trevor continues to show improvement in a variety of areas through having the encouragement and support of his Big.

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