History of Mentoring

“The concept of mentoring originated in ancient Greece in Homer’s Odyssey (Butler, 1900/1944). When Odysseus began his famous odyssey, he left his infant son, Telemachos, in the care of a companion named Mentor.

This relationship came to define mentoring as a process where an older person helps to counsel and guide a younger person. Although mentoring began as a process by a known and trusted person, it has evolved into a variety of programs where adults are recruited and trained to become mentors for youth in need of adult assistance.”

—A Review of Mentoring Studies and Websites: A Report for the Melissa Institute for the Prevention of Treatment of Violence – http://www.melissainstitute.org/documents/TMI_Mentoring_Report51-2.pdf


“Over the decades since World War II, changes in family structures and neighborhood networks have increased the amount of unsupervised time spent by many young people. Today’s youth are growing up faster than ever, and are facing pressures and risks their parents never imagined. More and more young people are facing these pressures and risks alone. Mentors provide support and encouragement, serve as positive role models, and help their mentees recognize their own potential and set positive goals. Parents are often good mentors, but many people in a child’s life can serve as mentor.

‘Although there is no substitute for a deeply caring parent, young people can still thrive if some responsible person or group steps in to meet their needs.'”

—Great Transitions: Preparing Adolescents for a New Centure, Carnegie Corporation of new York, 1996


“It is important to realize that children are influenced, or imprinted, by those around them. The questions are not ‘if’ our young people will be influenced, but “by whom they will be imprinted,” and whether those imprints will be negative or positive.”

—Mentoring Initiatives: An Overview of Youth Mentoring, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention – http://www.nationalfamilies.org/parents/mentor.pdf


“All children need caring adults in their lives. Although positive, sustained relationships with parents represent a critical resource for children, other adults can provide support that is similar to the support that a parent provides. This support from other adults can either be in addition to that provided by a parent or in place of support that a parent refuses or is unable to give…other adults can provide financial assistance, enhance children’s learning skills, and help build their self-esteem and self-control. They can also provide emotional support, advice, and guidance about subjects that adolescents might feel uncomfortable, apprehensive, or fearful discussing with their parents.”

—Mentoring: A promising Strategy for Youth Development – Jekielek, S. M., Moore, K. A.,Hair, E. C.,&Scarupa,H.J. (February, 2002), http://www.doneldinkins.com/f/ChildsTrendsMentoringBrief2002.pdf


“Mentoring programs are based on the idea that all children need caring adults in their lives, and that it’s possible to create a relationship based on trust between a youth and an adult who were previously strangers. Research shows that these relationships can promote positive youth development and offer support similar to the kind of support a youth receives from parents or caregivers.”

—Mentoring as a Family Strengthening Strategy, National Human Services Assembly: Family Strengthening Policy Center, http://www.aecf.org/upload/publicationfiles/ec3655k738.pdf


Connecticut Mentoring Partnership defines “Mentoring” as: “A relationship over a prolonged period of time between two or more people where an older, caring, more experienced individual provides help to the younger person as he/she goes through life.”