In 2019, MENTOR Virginia asked mentoring programs across the state to complete a survey with the goal of developing a snapshot of trends, needs, and challenges of mentoring in Virginia’s communities. One section of the survey asked programs to self-report how effectively they are implementing mentee and mentor recruitment, screening, training, matching, match support, closure, program management, and evaluation.

Before we dig into the results of the State of Mentoring in Virginia Survey, please note that MENTOR Virginia received 45 responses to the survey in total, a response rate of about 40%. The results presented here are representative of the programs that responded to the survey, but cannot necessarily be taken to represent the quality of practices being implemented by all of Virginia’s mentoring programs and communities.

Self-Evaluation of Program Quality: What Mentoring Programs Reported

Mentor Recruitment

A majority of mentoring programs that completed the survey self-reported either being “effective” or “very effective” at mentor recruitment. In all but one case, if a program didn’t report being “effective” or “very effective,” they reported being “not at all effective” at mentor recruitment, showing a wide gap—in fact, mentor recruitment was the only program practice we surveyed about that elicited even a single “not at all effective” response.

Mentee Recruitment

According to the data, all programs that have to recruit mentees are either “effective” or “very effective” at it, indicating that mentee recruitment is not a major challenge or concern currently for any of the mentoring programs that completed the survey.

Screening

Over 84% of mentoring programs that completed the survey self-reported that their screening practices are either “effective” or “very effective.” It is not clear what the other 12% meant by indicating that screening is not applicable to their mentoring program; screening all mentors is a best practice according to the Elements of Effective Practice (EEP). 

Training

Of the mentoring programs that completed the survey, 13% indicated that they were either “not very effective” at training or that training did not apply to their mentoring program. It is not clear why some mentoring programs considered training to be “not applicable,” as training for mentors is a best practice in the field of youth mentoring.

Matching

Six mentoring programs of those that completed the survey did not use matching in their program models in 2019, or otherwise noted that matching was “not applicable” to their program. Over 77% of the mentoring programs indicated that they are “effective” or “very effective” at matching.

Match Support

Of the mentoring programs that completed the survey, 6 indicated that they were “not very effective” at match support. Another 7 mentoring programs indicated that match support is “not applicable” to their mentoring program, and it is not clear from the data why that is. Match support is considered by the EEP to be a best practice for mentoring programs.

Closure

More mentoring programs that completed the survey reported closure to be “not applicable” to their program than any other practice that we surveyed about. It is unclear why this is the case when closure is a natural phase of relationships in every mentoring program, and is considered a best practice by the EEP. Almost as many programs indicated being “not very effective” at closure as those that indicated being “very effective,” showing a wide range in the effectiveness of this practice across programs.

Program Management

Forty-one out of the 45 programs that completed the survey indicated being either “effective” or “very effective” at program management. Three mentoring programs indicated that program management is “not applicable” to their program, which could indicate a misunderstanding about what was meant by “program management,” as all programs require some level of management and coordination.

Evaluation

Over 28% of mentoring programs that completed the survey indicated that they were either “not very effective” at evaluation or that evaluation is “not applicable” to their program. Fewer programs stated being “very effective” at evaluation than for any other practice we surveyed about, showing opportunities for growth.

Lessons & Limitations of the Survey Results

While the data captured by the 2019 State of Mentoring in Virginia Survey is limited in scope and can’t be taken to represent the quality of implementation across all mentoring programs in Virginia, there are a few takeaways from the data. Keep in mind that the data collected on the quality of implementation of program practices was all self-reported; if each program’s practices were independently audited by a third-party in comparison to the recommendations laid out in the EEP, it’s possible that the data would vary.

Takeaway 1: For every single practice that we surveyed about, the majority of mentoring programs who completed the survey indicated that they were “effective” at implementation. This means that, at least of the mentoring programs in Virginia that completed the survey, the majority of mentoring programs are self-reporting that they are effective overall at the implementation of their programs.

Takeaway 2: For the survey questions about the implementation of screening, training, match support, and closure, a significant number of mentoring programs who completed the survey indicated that these program practices were “not applicable” to their programs. This could mean that these mentoring programs are not implementing those practices at all or up to the quality standards laid out by the EEP. In all mentoring programs, volunteer screening and training as well as match support and closure are essential for high-quality mentoring. More data is ultimately needed to understand why so many mentoring programs reported these practices to be “not applicable” to their programs.

Takeaway 3: While the majority of mentoring programs that completed the survey indicated that they were “effective” or “very effective” at all the practices we surveyed about, there is still room for growth and improvement! For match support, at least 67% of mentoring programs have clear room for improvements, and for closure that number rises to 80% of programs. We would love to see all of our partner mentoring programs self-report being “very effective” at all these program practices, which are shown to lead to higher-quality, longer-lasting mentoring relationships for young people. In 2020, MENTOR Virginia will continue to support partner programs as they seek to improve the quality and impact of their programs through our line-up of services.

To read the full report on the 2019 State of Mentoring in Virginia Survey, click here.