clues as to why they might have worked and how they were related to the elements of the development framework we hypothesized as being important at the beginning of this report. Each program, in fact, included several components that were consistent with this framework. We learned that many programs can effectively promote healthy development, although we learned much less about why. Without such information, we cannot say very much about which particular components or combination of components were responsible for the programs’ effectiveness. We therefore cannot draw firm conclusions about which and how many of the features of settings in Chapter 4 were critical for the success of these programs. Nevertheless, in this section we attempt to compare these programs with our framework.

It is important to keep in mind that we imposed our list of setting features onto programs that were not designed with this particular framework in mind; we therefore had to rely on our interpretation of the program descriptions and other information provided in the evaluation materials to infer whether a program offered a particular feature or not.

Supportive Relationships

Supportive relationships were a major component of most of the effective programs reviewed. Explicit mentoring activities are the most obvious examples of nurturing supportive relationships, but most of the programs provided youth with some form of regular supportive contact with nonfamilial adults. In many cases, mentoring was not explicitly stated as a program goal, but the adult-adolescent contact in these programs often took the form of mentoring. For example, Quantum Opportunities used an intensive case management approach to tailor their program to meet individual needs and circumstances. This approach required regular supportive interactions between the case manager and the adolescent. In addition, many of the programs officially designated mentoring as the central component of the program. The best example of this is Big Brothers Big Sisters. The positive effects of mentoring were clearly documented in the evaluation of this program. Follow-up was done to understand the factors contributing to supportive mentoring relationships. Through telephone interviews with 1,101 mentors in 98 mentoring programs and through youth focus groups and youth interview data (Herrera et al., 2000), the evaluators found that mentors with the closest and most supportive relationships reported more than 10

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