National Survey Results

National Mentoring Survey: Iowa 2016


The National Mentoring Survey was administered by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, in affiliation with the Mentoring Partnership Network, during the summer of 2016.  Nationally, 1,100 mentoring programs participated, 72 of which were certified by the Iowa Mentoring Partnership. Included in this brief executive summary are snapshots of several pieces of data requested by members of the Provider Board as being the most relevant and interesting to programs like yourself. A full copy of Iowa’s results is available upon request; please email for further questions or to ask about other, specific aspects of the National Survey.

In Iowa 2016, 72 certified quality mentoring programs were leveraging 5,688 mentors to support, encourage, challenge, and create opportunities for 9,012 youth. 53% of programs support matches that are site-based, and 57% support matches that meet in the community, with the overlap being those programs that offer both on and off-site mentoring opportunities. Mentored youth are almost evenly split between rural and urban areas, with programs serving 4,307 youth in rural areas and 4,705 youth in urban areas in Iowa. Mentors volunteering at about 40 hours a year each contribute over $8 million in financial value to the state of Iowa, and inestimable value to their mentees and communities.

The total average length of a match is 23 months, well over most programs minimum length of commitment. Over 70% matches do meet that minimum length of commitment as required by individual programs.

Image 1

Certified mentoring programs in Iowa are diverse in their structure, size, and even specific goal areas. Overall, the average number of youth on a waitlist to be matched with a caring adult is 43. Some programs reported a waitlist of 0, others had wait lists of well over 50 youth. The National Survey did not specify in its question whether ‘youth on a waitlist’ refers to youth who have expressed interest in getting a mentor, or youth who have already been through training and are simply waiting for a caring adult to volunteer. The question was left up to the respondent’s individual interpretation.

To understand mentees’ diverse background, programs were asked about the races and ethnicities of the youth they serve. To put this context, as of a 2015 census, Iowa citizens are 91.8% White, 5.7% Hispanic, 3.5% Black, 2.4 % Asian, .5% Native American, and .1% Hawaiian/Pacific Islander[1]. As you can see from Graph 1, Black and Hispanic youth are over represented in mentoring programs, although the majority remains White.

Graph 1

Graph 2 depicts the differing and overlapping groups to which mentees may also belong. This section of the survey provided options to choose more than one answer, so we know that the same youth living in a low-income household (77% all mentees) may also be high academic achievers (15% mentees). Because youth mentoring is a research-based method of intervention for children living in a home affected by substance abuse and violence and is evidenced to be a positive strategy for breaking cycles of poverty and instilling hope, programs often seek to serve youth facing these exact issues.


Graph 2

The outliers in Graph 2, high academic achievers and college students, do not reflect the mentees programs are geared towards serving, but rather are more likely mentees who were recommended to the programs based on other social factors such as struggling with mental health or living in a single-parent home. It is important to note that students enrolled in college or high academic achievers are not excluded from factors that may cause them to want or need a caring adult in their life, nor is the need for a caring adult necessarily evidence of a failure on the part of a student to be achieving in academics.

Programs report on a variety of goals for their mentoring initiatives, ranging from broad goals like social skills, to identity development, resiliency, and violence prevention. Programs had the opportunity to choose multiple options from a list of 22 core goals or outcome areas on the survey. Graph 3 depicts the four goals programs chose most frequently. A full list of each program goal and the respective programs that selected it is available on request so that programs can connect with each other over common themes to share resources, struggles, stories, and hope.

Graph 3

Programs report using a variety of traditional mentor recruitment strategies. Current and past mentors remain one of the most integral pieces of recruiting new mentors. Secondly, and not far behind, programs reported that events put on in the community or at local businesses, schools, or other workplaces, encourages many other compassionate adults to become mentors. Not listed below are strategies that fewer programs marked as successful in meeting their needs: referrals from community partners (25% programs marked this as a successful strategy), National Mentoring Month events and promotions (11.67%), Volunteer centers and other volunteer organizations (1.67%). This does not mean such strategies cannot be helpful; indeed, some programs marked these strategies as very successful.

Graph 4

Public relations refers to media relations and other interactions with the general public through mediums such as newspapers, radio, TV, or interacting with local officials and celebrities in such a way as to put the spotlight on youth mentoring. Online outreach refers specifically to social media campaigns, website usage, email updates, online advertising, etc.

In a similar vein, programs were asked in what ways they feel they could benefit from the most support. As you can see in Graph 5, mentor recruitment by far represents the most relevant area of need for programs, with almost 80% reporting this a top area of need.


Graph 5

Programs also mentioned as challenge areas the following: making strong mentor/mentee matches (22%), offering mentoring in rural settings (22%), developing meaningful activities for mentors and youth (18%), professional development of staff (15%), supporting mentor/mentee matches (13%), program evaluation/data collection (13%), blending mentoring with other services (13%), partnership development (12%), integrating youth development principles (5%), and cultural perspectives in service design and delivery (5%).

IMP has conducted Peer Share calls on several of the above themes including fundraising/grant writing, partnerships, and advocacy. Free recordings of these can be found on the IMP website under Program Resources, Trainings, and then Recordings. Additionally, IMP has incorporated the results of this survey question into professional development opportunities for Fall 2016 and Spring 2017.

Lastly, Provider Board members were curious about which programs provide mentors with a specific curriculum to follow. Survey results show that 40% programs do provide a curriculum, and 60% do not. There was no option in the survey for programs who responded yes to the question to identify which curriculums they do provide, but we do have a comprehensive list of the names of the programs who provide mentors with a curriculum, available upon request. Should any program officer, director, or other staff member be interested in connecting with programs that provide mentors with a specific curriculum to follow, please email for a copy of the list of program names.

Graph 6




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