The National Success Mentors Initiative aims to connect over one million students with dedicated Success Mentors in this country’s first-ever effort to use an evidence-based and data driven mentor model and student support system to tackle chronic absenteeism. The campaign calls on all schools to take strategic actions to reduce the rates of chronic absenteeism, based on insights and evidence from ten school districts about what works.
Every chronically absent student in the country has a supporting, caring adult to help them navigate their school experience and become college and career ready.
Over the next three to five years, the National Success Mentors Initiative aims to reduce chronic absenteeism and drive school success by connecting over 1 million chronically absent students to caring, trained adults who can serve as mentors.
The National Success Mentors initiative is a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to providing high-need students with additional supports to enable them to succeed academically and graduate from high school prepared for post-secondary success. The initiative provides:
- identified students (those who are chronically absent or are at risk for being chronically absent) with consistent and continuous school-based mentoring aimed at uncovering and solving the underlying causes of their absenteeism;
- case managed referrals for identified students to professional supports as needed; and
- examples of school-wide efforts and early warning systems aimed at keeping all students on track to post-secondary success.
The National Success Mentors initiative model has been tested at scale in New York City, where it currently involves over 100 schools and provides school-based mentoring supports to over 10,000 students. The model has also been executed on a smaller scale in multiple districts across the country. These experiences have identified key conditions for successful implementation, including:
- conducting a needs assessment to understand how students who are chronically absent are distributed throughout a district’s schools and identifying which schools have the highest concentrations of chronically absent students;
- drawing on multiple sources (e.g., non-profit partners, college work-study students, school staff, trained peer mentors, etc.) to amass sufficient school-based mentors in the highest-need schools so that initially all chronically absent 6th and 9th graders can be reached with a goal of extending supports over time to reach all 6th to 12th graders (variations of the model are also effective for Pre-K to 5th grade);
- providing access to mentees’ attendance data, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and applicable state laws, to further several educational purposes, including attendance improvement;
- providing data confidentiality agreements to be signed by mentors to protect the confidentiality of mentees’ attendance data;
- having principals lead/support weekly meetings in which school-wide trend data on attendance, behavior, and course performance is analyzed and used to craft school-wide targeted interventions, along with discussion of individual students to gain deeper understanding of what drives poor attendance, behavior, and course performance;
- creating a positive, welcoming school environment where it is regularly communicated to all students that they are wanted in school and missed when they are not there;
- working with the mayor’s office and city agencies to develop more seamless means of accessing existing resources for students who need professional supports (e.g., mental health supports, school-based health support) and to enable better information flow among agencies that support the same students in accordance with applicable federal and state laws;
- participating in a network with other principals who are implementing the same mentoring model and access to on-demand technical assistance when clarification, problem solving support, or staff training is needed;
- participating in a learning agenda, including trying out alternatives to the model, to help build a greater understanding of what works, for whom, under what conditions; and
- engaging in continuous improvement.
Guides & Downloads
- The Implementation Guide
Provides tips on how to implement a Success Mentor model at your school. It was created for districts, schools, team captains and school partners.
- Download the Attendance Works and MENTOR presentation on Addressing Chronic Absence by implementing an elementary success mentor strategy.
- Download the Center for Supportive Schools’ Tapping into the Power of Peers presentation.
Technical assistance (TA) from an experienced mentoring TA provider can help you get started and make your program the best it can be at no cost.
The National Mentoring Resource Center (NMRC) is a program of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and is managed by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. The NMRC provides no-cost training and technical assistance to mentoring programs to help them meet quality standards and implement evidence-based and best practices for mentoring. Click here to request no cost technical assistance for your program.
Need help to apply for TA? Watch the video and use this template request.
Planning Documents & Resources
- Success Mentor Getting Started Checklist
- What makes a mentoring program work
- Program Planning Chart
- Checklist for Developing and Launching a Success Mentors Program
Lists key steps for district captains, principals and school coordinators to take and resources they should use to implement quality mentoring programs in their schools
- Elementary Success Mentor Toolkit
This toolkit is designed to help school districts establish an elementary success mentor program, leverage ideas and resources available from national partner organizations as well as the pioneering work of a growing number of local efforts. It is filled with tips, scripts, and a variety of relevant and free materials that you can take and tailor to the needs of your community.
- The New York City Mayor’s Interagency Task Force
The NYC Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & School Engagement has developed a Getting Started Task Force Toolkit with a wide array of informative and helpful documents.
- White House and Department of Education Parent Acknowledgement Letter:
Mentors and Mentees
- Recruiting and Retaining
Tips for recruiting and retaining your mentors from Mentor New York
- School-based Success Mentors
How to customize Success Mentors for middle and high schools
- Mentor Application Sample
Developed by Davis Middle School
- Volunteer Information Packet Sample, 2016-2017
Developed by San Antonio Independent School District
- Paquete Informativo para Voluntarios, 2016-2017
- How To Leverage Community Relationships While Protecting Student Privacy
Data sharing toolkit for communities. Developed by the US Dept. of Education.
- Sample Confidentiality Agreement for School-Linked Success Mentors
For Community Based Partners, After-School Providers, etc.
- Match Rationale Form
Developed and used by the courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
- Mentee Matching Form
Developed and used by the courtesy of Mentoring Partnership of Long Island
- Customize Success Mentors for MS and HS
How to customize Success Mentors for Middle and High Schools. Developed by the New York City Mayor’s Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & School Engagement.
- National Success Mentors School Kick-off Events
Once your matches have been made you will want to provide an opportunity for family, mentors and mentees to meet. Thank you to Joe’Mar Hooper and Karen Horn from Milwaukee Public Schools for sharing the following templates during their family kick-off events held at each school:
~ School Calendar PDF Excel
Mentors and mentees use when they meet so the students can mark all the days off they were present
~ The Golden Ticket: An invitation for parents to introduce the kick-off.
~ Conversation Starters: Provided at each table to engage mentors and families to get to know each other.
~ Information Sheet: For mentors and families to exchange contact information.
~ Tips Sheet: From MENTOR New York for parents.
- K-12 Journey Map
This tool is intended to help youth and mentors track important milestones as youth make the journey from school to post-secondary education and career planning. Developed by the National Mentoring Resource Center
- Tools for Mentoring Adolescents
This series of 10 fact sheets for mentors reviews many critical topics related to mentoring youth across the adolescent years. Developed by the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota
- Young Men’s Initiative Activity Catalog
This guide features fun and thought-provoking games, art projects, theatre skits and role plays, and other one-on-one or group activities. Produced in partnership by the New York City Department of Youth & Community Development and Mentor New York.
- Making the Most of Morning Calls
- Using Text Messaging to Support Success Mentors offered by the Mentor New York initiative, this guide offers a variety of text communications to a variety of mentor/mentee situations. The resource also gives links for connecting students to critical resources.
- Training Guide for Volunteer Mentors
Developed by beamentor.org
- Talking it Through: Communication Skills for Mentors
This interactive online training is designed to support mentors who have been matched for a while and are encountering various challenges as their mentees open up and the relationship grows. Developed by the National Mentoring Resource Center
- Ongoing Training for Mentors
12 interactive sessions for U.S. Department of Education Mentoring Programs
- Mentors supporting Growth Mindset
Developed in collaboration with MENTOR. This toolkit can help mentors understand growth mindset and how to apply growth mindset strategies to many of the challenges that youth and adults face in life.
- Wellness Mentoring Circles for Young People: A Guide for Facilitators and Mentors
This resource, provided by Concerned Black Men National’s CARES Mentoring Movement, was originally designed for use in their Wellness Mentoring Circles. It offer groups of young people an opportunity to learn about important aspects of their development, reflect on their experiences with the world around them, and receive support from peers and mentors that can promote healthy behaviors, problem-solving, and general well-being.
- Developmental Relationships Framework Handout from the Search Institute
This guide defines a developmental approach to mentoring and actions mentors can take to build positive and meaningful relationships with youth. Published by the Search Institute
- Guide to Mentoring Boys and Young Men of Color
- A Mentor’s Guide to Youth Development
A mentoring fact sheet developed by the US Dept. of Education
- Understanding the Youth Development Model
A mentoring fact sheet developed by the US Dept. of Education
- Putting Youth Development Principles To Work in Mentoring Programs
A mentoring fact sheet developed by the US Dept. of Education
- Mentoring Immigrant Youth: Supporting Relationships for Newcomer Youth
A webinar developed by the National Mentoring Resource Center supporting immigrant youth as they navigate the challenges of a new culture and what mentoring programs can do to serve immigrant youth and their families effectively.
Data and Weekly Meetings
- Weekly Student Success Summit Meetings
A PowerPoint developed by the Everyone Graduates Center as a way to analyze, learn, and act upon what mentors are learning about chronic absenteeism.
- New York City Attendance Meetings:
A seven-minute video on helping students stay on track and stay in school
- Attendance Works Sample
The tools include modules for assessing chronic absence in elementary, middle and high school grades, as well a tool for combining chronic absence reports for all grade levels. Offered by Attendance Works.
- Example data collection forms shared by MBK coordinators in Miami-Dade:
~ FOR MENTEES: MBK Sample Google Doc
~ FOR MENTORS: MBK Sample Google Doc
Research and Impact
Relationships First: Creating Connections That Help Young People Thrive
It’s not enough to say that relationships matter. To be actionable, teachable, and measurable, we must specify some of the ways young people interact with others that contribute to their learning, growing, and thriving. To that end, Search Institute has embarked on a major initiative to understand and document the day-to-day actions within relationships that contribute to a young person’s development.
Meeting the Challenge of Combating Chronic Absenteeism
This report by the Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, examines the efforts and impacts of the NYC Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & School Engagement. This report details the efforts undertaken by the task force to combat chronic absenteeism in New York City between 2010 and 2013.
Diplomas Now Early Impact Findings: New Evidence on Reducing Chronic Absenteeism (PDF)
Diplomas Now combines evidence-based whole school reform strategies with enhanced student supports guided by an early warning system. It integrates the efforts and insights of teachers and school leaders with supports from Talent Development Secondary, City Year, and Communities In Schools. It is designed to work in high-poverty areas with the nation’s most-challenged middle and high schools. Winner of an I3 validation grant, Diplomas Now is in the midst of a seven-year randomized field trial. An early impact report by MDRC was released in June 2016, with significant findings on reducing chronic absenteeism.
New York City Finds Success in Cutting Chronic Absenteeism in School (PDF)
Mentors, wake-up calls to students, incentives and weekly “student success” meetings led by principals helped New York City significantly cut chronic absenteeism in schools, according to a new report by the Everyone Graduates Center at The Johns Hopkins University School of Education.