Youth mentoring has been demonstrated as a critical asset in supporting young people as they transition from adolescence to adulthood, as it has been associated with a wide range of outcomes, including those psychosocial, educational, and vocational in nature. More importantly, youth mentoring has been shown to be a compensatory support for minoritized young people. While minoritized youth are less likely to report a mentor, due to the pervasively racist structures that make up our society, they make greater strides across all domains of outcomes when mentored.
Recent work has underscored two distinct types of informal mentors available to young people, core mentors and capital mentors. Core mentoring relationships provide emotional support and are typically with a mentor from within the extended family, while capital mentors provide advice and social capital, and are from outside of the young person’s family unit. While previous research has demonstrated that capital mentors are associated with economic mobility, no published research to date has explored the impacts of core mentoring. There is also no published study on the impacts of either core or capital mentoring for minoritized youth specifically. The present study seeks to answer two research questions:
- Are capital mentors more likely to support educational and vocational mobility for minoritized youth?
- Are core mentors more likely to support mental health outcomes for minoritized youth?
For the present study, we used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. This study included four waves of data: (1) Wave 1, collected when respondents were between 11 and 19 years old, (2) Wave 3 (18 to 26 years old), (4) Wave 4 (25 to 33 years old) and (5) Wave 5 (32 and 42 years old). Our sample was restricted to only Black respondents (N=1,437).
To account for endogeneity bias, propensity score matching was used. Matching variables for this study were chosen based on previous research and organized into five categories: demographics, personal resources (e.g., GPA), peer resources (e.g., how often the young person sees friends), parent resources (e.g., parent education), and neighborhood resources (e.g., proportion of community with a college degree). After matching those with similar propensities, one reporting a capital mentor and the other reporting a core mentor, we compared the Wave 4 and 5 differences in depression and anxiety (hypothesized to be support by core mentors) as well as income mobility and education mobility (hypothesized to be support by capital mentors).
Having a core mentor was associated with a decreased likelihood of reporting depression, both in Wave 4 and Wave 5 (p: 0.03 and p: 0.05), while having a capital mentor was associated with educational mobility in Wave 4 (p: 0.04) and income mobility, both in Wave 4 and Wave 5 (p: 0.01 and 0.06).
Conclusions and Implications:
Overall, both core and capital mentors were impactful for Black respondents in different domains. Efforts should be made to support mentors for this population, and further research should continue to explore the differing impacts of core versus capital mentorship.