How to Become a Mentor in NYC: Help Guide the Next Generation of Leaders

According to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, a quality mentoring relationship has a powerful effect on youth, both personally and academically. Their research indicates that at-risk young adults with a mentor were 55% more likely to enroll in college, 78% more likely to volunteer regularly, and 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.1

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While mentorship programs are primarily for the benefit of the youth mentee, mentors also share that it is a rewarding experience for several reasons. Taking on a mentorship role has enabled adults to achieve personal growth goals and better understand themselves, as well as enhance their relationships with their own children and coworkers.2

In NYC, over 500,000 children are living at or below the poverty level.3 For children who have limited access to resources, active mentorship can make a significant difference in their development.

Current Challenges for Children and Young Adults in New York City

Substance Abuse

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services reports that over 12 percent of NY state residents suffer from a substance abuse disorder. At the time of the survey, that’s over 1.77 million adults and 156,000 youth between 12-17.4 In a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 27% of NY participants in the high-school age range admitted having their first drink before the age of 13.

Out of those students, 41% admitted receiving that drink from someone else. In the same study, 18% reported currently used marijuana, 5% used cocaine, and 4% used heroin.5 According to the study, New York youth are being exposed to addictive substances that can negatively impact their bright futures.


Mental Health

In the same study, 30% NY high school students reported they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row so that they stopped doing some usual activities in the 12 months before the study. Additionally, 17% of NY high school students reported seriously considered suicide within the 12 months leading up to the survey. Ten percent of survey respondents said they attempted suicide one or more times during a 12-month period.6 Mental health is a critical issue affecting New York’s youth and their personal growth.


High School Drop-Out Rate

In 2018, the Office of the Mayor recorded an overall high school drop-out rate of 7.5%. While this percentage was a 0.3 decrease from 2017, there is still room to grow. For Hispanic students, the 2018 drop-out rate was still at 10.5%. Students of color still had a 7.6% drop-out rate, and Asian students were at 3.7%.7

Reasons for dropping out of high school include economic disadvantage, too many missed school days, academic performance, had to help support the family, and more. Where You Can Become a Mentor in NYC According to Boston University, at-risk youths who are active with a mentor are 46% less likely to use illegal drugs and 27% less likely to drink than their peers who did not have a mentor. Academically, students who consistently meet with a mentor are 52% less likely to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class. They’re also 81% more likely to join an after-school sport or extracurricular activity.


As the above statistics demonstrate, the need for mentors is critical to the success of the next generation of leaders. There are a significant number of mentorship programs in NYC that connect young people with willing mentors to improve their leadership skills, find healthy hobbies, and advance their education. Join a local mentorship program such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York, Lower East Side Girls Club, and A Call to Men and be a part of the change!


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