Mentoring programs for high school graduation

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Mentoring programs consist of adult volunteers being paired with at-risk students to provide counseling and guidance for academic problems, family and community issues, and personal issues
  • Programs provide specific targeted attention and resource access to students who most need it
  • Programs vary widely with regard to the amount of time spent on academics versus social activities
  • Longer-term programs with more frequent contact allowing for closer relationships between mentor and student have stronger effects on student outcomes
Cost per Participant
$600 to $4,500 per student

Evidence and impacts


Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

  • Programs and their results can vary widely; effectiveness may vary by subgroup or outcome category (e.g., academic vs. behavioral)
  • Mentoring programs lasting more than one year have stronger effects than shorter programs
  • Students with close relationships with their mentors appear to have stronger academic outcomes than mentored students without close mentor relationships
  • Some studies have shown significant effects in increased academic achievement, educational attainment, high school graduation rates, successful transitions to employment, and post-secondary enrollment

Best practices in implementation

  • Note: This content is under review
  • Mentoring programs often struggle with low program attendance and completion rates, lack of staffing, unsuccessful mentor recruitment, and other administrative challenges.
  • Community-based mentoring tends to be more successful than school-based mentoring, as programs with a duration of over 12 months are generally more effective.
  • Programs should recruit, train, and screen potential mentors and support volunteers with ongoing assistance and suggested programming.
  • School-based programs tend to cost less than community-based programs as schools often provide space and other in-kind contributions.