Master of Science (MS)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Studies have demonstrated the benefits of mentoring as a successful intervention for youth in programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Limited research is available which describes the experiences of the mentors who participate in a program specifically for youth with disabilities. Youth with disabilities experience unique challenges as they work towards academic goals and independent living. Findings from this study will provide a insight into the lived experiences from the mentors’ perspective.

The methodology used for this study was a single interview with five adult mentors of youth with disabilities. Qualitative interviews were conducted with each mentor to describe their lived experience of participation in the mentoring program. Mentors were recruited from Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) in Boston, Massachusetts. Mentors were asked about the process of recruitment, mentor-youth match characteristics, activities, training and support (from program administrators), benefits to the mentor and challenges encountered.

Findings from this study indicate the primary source of recruitment of mentors was through staff and organizational affiliation. The mentors-mentees match process including similar interests, disability and geographic proximity should continue. Further exploration is needed about utilization of training and support. Mentors in this study rarely attended PYD’s events. The mentors’ initiated the majority of communication and activity planning. Mentees’ needs at various ages generated different responses and challenges. Overall, the mentors found their mentoring involvement mutually beneficial.

One unexpected discovery was the length of the mentoring relationships for these mentor participants far exceeded the national averages. Mentors were involved with mentees from three and twelve years.

Implications would indicate further studies with mentors and mentees with disabilities. The unique nature of the needs in their relationship needs to be explored to provide mentoring programs administrators, mentors and funding sources information to develop and support successful relationships.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Krisanna Machtmes