Increase the number and quality of caring adult relationships in students’ lives.

Caring adult relationships promote positive academic, behavioral, and psychological development so that youth can succeed in school and life. Stable, trusting relationships provide important social support so that youth can graduate high school. A web of caring adults includes parents, family members, school counselors, teachers, school staff, social workers, youth workers, national service members, volunteers, and coaches.

  • Social support includes emotional, informational, evaluation, and instrumental assistance. Each of these plays a specific role for a young person’s development, but emotional (love and care) and instrumental (actions like providing a bus pass, a meal, a ride, or babysitting) acting in tandem are most likely to increase the number of students graduating without interruption.
  • Research shows that recruiting and training caring adults from diverse backgrounds leads to better outcomes for students of color.
  • Partnering with AmeriCorps and other direct service providers leverages outside resources to bring more caring adults into schools.
  • High-quality professional development opportunities on mentoring, cultural competency, and active listening can prepare teachers and other professionals so that they are best equipped to be caring adults.
  • Parents and families living in poverty also need extra support to be involved in their student's education and support them at school and at home.



  • National School Climate Center’s Comprehensive School Climate Inventory (CSCI) is a nationally recognized school climate survey that provides an in-depth profile of your school community’s particular strengths, as well as areas for improvement. CSCI data allows you to quickly and accurately assess student, parent/guardian, and school personnel perceptions to get the data that you need to make informed decisions for lasting improvement.
  • A School Climate Committee can be a key mechanism for creating positive social norms, reducing bullying, and developing more respectful, caring children. The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s tool, How-to Guide to School Climate Committee, provides a general structure and instructions for implementation. Students on the committee gain leadership skills and work to strengthen relationships between students and between adults and students in the school community.
  • YES! for Schools is dedicated to providing youth with a healthy body, healthy mind, and healthy lifestyle. They offer practical tools and life skills to manage stress and emotions like breathing techniques, stretching and exercise, and conflict resolutions skills. They engage the entire school community by identifying and training administrators, teachers, parents, and student mentors in YES! curriculum who can then sustain and grow YES!’s impact in the school over the long term.
  • Graduation Coaches fights the high school dropout crisis by supporting the adults who coach youth towards educational success. Graduation Coaches provide student support services with the goal of keeping students in school, helping them graduate on time, and preparing them for life. A number of Graduation Coach resource tools are available, including these from Cities of Service and the American Federation of Teachers
  • According to their website, “AVID trains educators to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. AVID brings research-based strategies and curriculum to educational institutions in elementary, secondary, and higher education. The AVID System annually provides over 60,000 educators with training and methodologies that help develop students’ critical thinking, literacy, and math skills across all content areas throughout the entire campus, what they call Schoolwide AVID.
  • MENTOR recently partnered with the Department of Labor's Division of Youth Services to facilitate a webinar on workplace mentoring. The recording of the webinar provides the latest research and effective practices, including case studies from The Gap, JPMorgan Chase, and General Motors. Highlights from the webinar include a discussion of how top U.S. businesses collaborate with the public and nonprofit sectors to connect youth to mentoring relationships and how mentoring aligns with business priorities
  • First-generation students and those who come from low-income families often need additional support when preparing for college or the job market. EAB provides a look at three effective programs using caring adults to do just this.
    • Our Piece of Pie in Connecticut partners with colleges to prepare students on skills essential to entering the workforce. They say their program works because they invest in “forging and growing a personal, consistent relationship between each youth and a caring, committed, and proactive adult staff member.”
    • The career center at the University of California at Berkeley creates opportunities for first-generation students to network with first-generation alumni and employers where they can share college and career advice.
    • Pushy Moms, located at LaGuardia Community College, empowers moms, who have experience offering college guidance to their own children, to provide support for LaGuardia students.


  • In Washington, D.C., Ron Brown College Preparatory High School (RBHS) is the first single gender public high school in the District of Columbia Public Schools system. Empowering males of color with the pillars of Scholarship, Character, and Service, RBHS’ mission is to change the narrative around young men of color. RBHS relies on many full-time "caring adult" staffers, the CARE Team, to carry out and enforce restorative justice practices, and the school climate at RBHS is one of patience and growth. This CARE Team, which keeps the students on track emotionally and academically, sets the school apart
  • In Baltimore, Thread is working to create a new social fabric, where relationships are woven among students, volunteers, and collaborators. Thread engages underperforming high school students confronting significant barriers by providing each one with a family of committed volunteers and increased access to community resources. They foster students’ academic advancement and personal growth into self-motivated, resilient, and responsible citizens. Thread Families extend support beyond the school day and into the home by creating customized and comprehensive solutions to address the root causes of academic and social challenges.
  • Café Momentum, a Dallas, Texas restaurant and culinary training facility, “transforms young people’s lives by providing a positive environment in which at-risk youth who have spent time in juvenile facilities receive intensive culinary, job and life-skill training, as well as continued mentorship and support, enabling them to achieve their full potential.” During the one-year internship (preceded by a nine-week orientation), participants have the support of a case manager, participate in structured, hands-on training, and have the opportunity to apply to a restaurant externship.
  • At Putnum High School in North Clackamas, Oregon a network of caring adults—from teachers to principals—is making a concerted effort to guide students to graduation and college, giving them encouragement and support. The Oregonian reported on the school’s impressive efforts to develop a network of mentors and guide Latino students to graduation.
  • In Washington, D.C., College Bound offers over 190 students from 46 schools academic enrichment and resources to prepare for and succeed in college. This work includes the Academic Mentoring Program, which “matches students one-on-one with college-educated volunteers to strengthen the student’s math, language arts, and social skills while preparing them for the college journey.” In addition to the one-to-one mentor relationship, College Bound offers a myriad of enrichment activities to supplement the students’ experience and continue to foster a college-going culture. 100% of their students graduate high school and are accepted at colleges and universities
  • In Denver, Colorado, the Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap program is preparing youth exiting the child welfare system for the workforce. The United Way, along with partners, provides support and coaching to help youth become self-sufficient adults. Hear from two young people who benefited from the Bridging the Gap program and are now on their way to a brighter future.
  • The Kern Education Development Foundation is working throughout Kern County, California to connect STEM professionals with students from two Bakersfield high schools for monthly mentoring sessions. The program, Workforce Mentoring, aims to prepare youth with the skills needed to have “successful career pursuits, while developing a more qualified future workforce for local employers.” Part of the mentoring sessions includes a “glimpse into the everyday experience of having a job in Kern County via personal stories and encouragement.”


  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched its Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) 25 years ago. Their results report, JDAI at 25, draws on eight years of JDAI data, tells how participating sites have achieved significant and—in many cases—long-lasting reductions in rates of juvenile incarceration and juvenile crime. As part of their look back on 25 years of work, they released a video, Juvenile Justice: Caring Adults Kept Aurelia on Track, which tells the story of a young woman in trouble for whom caring adults made a different decision to pursue an effective conflict resolution approach instead of arrest.
  • MENTOR’s resource guide, Supporting Young People in the Wake of Violence and Trauma, provides information and recommendations to help mentors affirm young people’s experiences and provide support after incidents of violence or traumatic events occur. Episodes of violence, and other traumatic events in young people’s communities, impact young people’s lives in a variety of ways.
  • City Year believes that “education has the power to help every student reach his or her potential.” City Year works to bridge the gap in high-poverty communities by using AmeriCorps members to support students and schools. City Year AmeriCorps members partner with high-need schools in 28 communities across the country, providing extra support to help students stay in school and on track to graduate ready for college and career success
  • The First Tee trains paid and volunteer coaches to help youth build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Their afterschool and in-school programs use golf to reinforce integrity, respect, and perseverance. These programs place significant emphasis on mentorship, and both teens and alumni have said their relationship with their coaches grew stronger and more meaningful over time. Ultimately, the numbers show that The First Tee’s approach is working—80 percent of teens and alumni say that The First Tee helped them become better students
  • College Possible makes college admission and success possible for low-income students by working with AmeriCorps and Vista members who coach and support high school students through an intensive curriculum on the key aspects of preparing for college. College Possible currently has six sites and is piloting innovative program models to reach additional students through virtual and blended approaches including texting, video chat, document-sharing and social media
  • iMentor matches students with a committed college-educated mentor to guide them on their journey to college graduation. They provide mentors to high schools students, for at least three years, and recruit thousands of volunteers to fill this important role. The iMentor model “harnesses the power of long-term, personal relationships to help students succeed.” They partner with high schools in low-income communities, where a majority of students served will be first-generation college graduates.