Launching the Mentoring Mindsets Initiative

Mentors can play an important role in supporting students’ success—whether they are near-peer mentors serving as role models for young students, or trusted adults and community leaders. That’s why a number of the U.S. Department of Education’s initiatives, including My Brother’s Keeper, leverage the power of mentors as key supporters and champions in students’ lives [to learn more about how to become a mentor, please click here].

One way that mentors can support students’ academic careers is by helping them develop learning mindsets and skills. Although these skills are not a silver bullet for improving public education, they are essential to teaching and learning. Alongside parents and educators, mentors can play a key part in supporting students’ resilience, sense of purpose and growth mindsets. When students become frustrated by challenges in the classroom, for example, mentors can help remind them that their minds are like a muscle that grows through effort. And when students feel disconnected from their classrooms, mentors can help them see how what they are learning in school aligns with what they hope to accomplish in life.

Research and educators’ experience in all kinds of classrooms have shown that empowering students with learning mindsets and skills can unlock their potential for growth in any subject, at any age. But we don’t yet have evidence-based tools that the thousands of mentoring organizations and millions of mentors across the country can use to help develop learning mindsets and skills in their mentees. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education is partnering with City Year, MENTOR, PERTS and the Raikes Foundation to launch the Mentoring Mindsets Initiative. Over the next year, we’ll work together to design, pilot and evaluate an evidence-based mindset toolkit specifically for mentors that they can use with their mentees to build learning mindsets and skills.

Our goal is to produce the best tools possible for mentors working across a wide range of communities, contexts and grade levels. As we gather more information about what’s helpful, and how we can make these tools better, we’ll continue refining our approach. Once we have data that makes us confident that our tools help mentors amplify their impact, we’ll work with our network of partner organizations to make sure that the most effective approaches make their way into the hands of caring mentors across the country—so that we can empower thousands of mentors to build deeper relationships with their mentees.

If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about the Mentoring Mindsets Initiative, please contact Andrew at