Free Online Toolkit Helps Organizations Evaluate Their Mentoring Programs

A measuring tape.

Young people benefit from mentor relationships and youth programs often have a mentoring component woven into their overall services. Agencies may need to evaluate their mentoring programs, but may not know how to measure outcomes, or where to access surveys and other data collection tools.

The National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC), which is part of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, created a website that helps organizations measure the outcomes of their mentoring programs: “The Measurement Guidance Toolkit.”

The user-friendly toolkit has a guide on the left side of the web page where users can browse through seven measurement domains such as, “Mental and Emotional Health,” and “Healthy and Prosocial Behavior.” There is also a section dedicated to guidance and resources for creating and implementing an evaluation.

Here we have highlighted some of the toolkit’s sections:

About this Toolkit. If an agency is new to evaluating mentoring programs, this is a good place to get an orientation to evaluation practice and the toolkit itself. The authors explain why it’s helpful to standardize the outcome measurements for mentoring programs, and they share the center’s commitment to making mentoring evaluation tools more accessible to agencies. The authors also explain how to navigate through the different sections of the toolkit.

Measurement Domains. Based on research conducted by the Research Board of the NMRC, the toolkit includes six categories of youth development that can be measured within the context of a mentoring program. There is an overview for each category and a list of three or four subcategories and their respective measurement tools. For example, under the category, “Interpersonal Relationships,” for the subcategory, “Parent-child relationship quality,” the authors recommend agencies use the “Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI) short form - Parent Support subscale.” The authors then describe the scale, its intended age range, why the Research Board chose that scale, and other information such as possible adaptations and where to access the scale.

Evaluation Guidance and Resources. When an organization is ready to design and implement their evaluation, this section will provide step-by-step instructions. The subsection titled, “Advice for Designing and Administering Evaluation Tools,” is in the form of a frequently asked questions list. In the subsection, “Key Evaluation Considerations,” the authors list 12 must-read general tips as well as suggestions for choosing between an internal (in-house) or external evaluation and how to budget for an external one. In “Selected Reading and Resources,” organizations will find links to 10 resources that provide guidance in three areas: general evaluation, survey design, and logic models.

Throughout the toolkit the authors recommend that readers contact the NMRC for free technical assistance whenever they need help designing their mentoring program evaluation.

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Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, the Family and Youth Services Bureau, or the Administration for Children and Families.

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