Project Arrive

Group Mentoring

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Structuring Mentoring Groups

structureResearchers have discovered that group mentoring can have a positive impact on youth when mentees can relate to their mentors and develop a sense of group identity. But, making decisions about who to include in a mentoring group can be a complex undertaking. Will you structure your groups around gender, ethnic, or social identity? Academic performance? Behavioral issues? Common interests? And, how many mentees will be in each group? Similar questions can be posed regarding selecting mentors. What mentor characteristics are important to identify when pairing up co-mentors? Do experience, age, gender, or personality matter?

Unfortunately, there are no clear right or wrong answers for many of these questions. There is little research on structuring mentoring groups, but here is what we do know…

  • Mentoring groups vary widely, with most consisting of 3-15 mentees, and 1-4 mentors to facilitate the groups. One major benefit of group mentoring is the ability to reach more youth with fewer adults; however, high youth to adult ratios can put an extra burden on mentors and hinder opportunities for youth to connect with mentors. It’s important for each program to find a balance between efficient resource allocation and properly supervised groups.
  • 30-40% of mentoring groups include mentees and mentors of diverse race and gender. Though many mentoring groups match mentors and mentees based on gender and other demographic characteristics, cross-identity matches are common. While these more diverse matches may make initial compatibility more challenging, mentees may benefit long-term from connections with adults and peers with whom they may not normally interact.
  • Most groups include mentees with various strengths and weaknesses. In a national survey of over 250 mentoring groups, nearly all groups included at least “a few” youth who faced various risk factors such as poverty, single-parent households, behavioral problems, and academic failure. But, very few groups focused on one risk factor exclusively. In addition, many groups included mentees who were socially skilled and held positive values and attitudes. Research shows that structuring groups to include individuals with positive characteristics can provide a “positive peer group” for others struggling with specific risk factors.
  • Pairing mentors with diverse skills and experience can be helpful to provide mentees with a wider breadth of knowledge. Project Arrive groups reported that pairing mentors from different departments within the school, such as wellness and counseling, provided a helpful balance of social, emotional and academic support during group meetings. Further, pairing experienced mentors with those who are just beginning can provide a boost to the mentor learning curve.

In summary, successful mentoring groups can be structured in several ways as long as mentees are able to positively relate to their mentors and develop a sense of group identity and cohesion.



DuBois, D. L., Portillo, N., Rhodes, J. E., Silverthorn, N., & Valentine, J. C. (2011). How effective are mentoring programs for youth? A systematic assessment of the evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12, 57–91.

Herrera, C., Vang, Z., Gale, L. Y., & Public/Private Ventures, P., PA. (2002). Group Mentoring: A Study of Mentoring Groups in Three Programs.

Kuperminc, G. (2016, January). Group Mentoring. Retrieved August 15, 2016, from

Sánchez, B., Pinkston K. D., Cooper A. C., Luna C. & Wyatt, S.T. (2016). One falls, we all fall: How boys of color develop close peer mentoring relationships. Applied Developmental Science. Retrieved from



21 Days to Habit

The goal of this activity is to help students develop the necessary skills to create positive changes in their own lives. Particularly, in this activity, students will choose a behavior that will produce a desired change, then learn to develop the behavior into a habit. The activity includes a 21 day calendar with tips for success to support a good habit formation.

21 Days to Habit

How to Get Your Grades Raised

This activity guides students through the process of addressing and negotiating grades with their teachers. Students will learn how to constructively communicate with their teachers about grades, and develop helpful strategies for increasing grades both short-term and in general. Students brainstorm ways to discuss grades with teachers, review a 9-step plan for getting teachers to increase their grades, and practice the strategies with role-play.

Mentors can also click here for helpful tips on talking to students about grades.

Click on the link below to view the activity:
How to Get Your Grade Raised

Make It Happen!

Make It Happen! is an activity developed to help students take advantage of extra time over school breaks. In this activity, students will set realistic academic and personal goals to work toward over break. Students complete a daily calendar to help them create a strategy for achieving their goals.

Make It Happen!


This activity involves giving each mentee the opportunity to share something positive and negative about his or her week which allows the group to provide praise and support. Check-ins are are great activity to do at the beginning of group meetings especially when groups are first forming.

Check-In Activity

Icebreakers and Team Builders

Explore over 60 ice breaker and team building ideas to help start your group off on the right foot. Most activities take approximately 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your group) and require minimal materials. Leave a comment below on which activities worked best for your group.

Ice Breakers and Team Builders

Warm Fuzzies

This activity encourages students to share their warm feelings about their peers and mentors. Group members chose names from a jar and discuss the positive qualities of that person. Students also discuss how the group has impacted their lives. This is a good wrap up activity.


Help Me Identify the Problem

Students work together to identify problems in different areas of their lives including school, personal, and family issues. Once identified, students learn how to clarify their problems so that they are manageable. The lesson is reinforced with an activity that requires students to identify and clarify a problem in different scenarios.

17 Help me Identify the Problem


This activity teaches students the learning strategy S.L.A.N.T, which stands for Sit Up, Lean Forward, Ask Questions, Nod Your Head, and Talk. It focuses on each behavior as a tool to increase classroom success.


Chart the Power

In this activity, students discover how the U.S. power structure is dominated by certain groups. Students identify particular groups (adults, men, Muslims, etc.) who have more or less power in our society. This activity includes a discussion about the effects of systematic and institutionalized stereotyping.



If you have any helpful pointers or suggestions for doing this activity with your group, please leave a comment below.


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