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Determinants of Motivation for Mentoring Among Adults Volunteering to Mentor Youth

NCJ Number
Journal of Youth Development Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Dated: 2020 Pages: 174-189
Miriam Miranda-Diaz; Hyuny Clark-Shim; Thomas E.. Keller; Renee Spencer
Date Published
16 pages
Since most youth mentoring programs rely on volunteers to serve as mentors to youth, the current study identified factors associated with motivations for volunteering to be a mentor, specifically altruistic and self-oriented reasons for becoming a mentor.
Because adults who volunteer as mentors and youth mentees typically come from different socio-cultural backgrounds, the study examined demographic characteristics associated with these different motivations. In addition, the study addressed the empathy-altruism hypothesis that suggests individuals with higher levels of empathy exhibit greater altruistic tendencies. For this analysis, the focus was on ethnocultural empathy and its association with volunteer motivations. The sample consisted of 1,000 volunteers who applied to mentor in four agencies affiliated with a national mentoring organization. The results indicated that mentors reporting higher levels of ethnocultural empathy were more likely to endorse altruistic motivations for volunteering. Younger volunteers, female volunteers, and volunteers of color reported higher levels of self-oriented motivations for volunteering. Female mentors, in general, reported higher levels of altruistic motivations for volunteering. Altruism and empathy, particularly the ability to connect with youth across cultural differences, are considered important mentor attributes conducive to healthy mentoring relationships. The implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed. 35 references (publisher abstract modified)