A Social-‐Justice Informed Evaluation of a Mentorship-Based Program Pairing At-Risk Youth and Holocaust Survivors
AbstractThis paper describes a social justice informed, formative evaluation of a community-based intervention program in our community that paired marginalized Latinx youth and Holocaust survivor mentors. This program is a unique effort to address the issues facing this youth population through difficult dialogues and mentorship from a group who has clearly suffered oppression. Using a qualitative, community-based approach, eight program participants were interviewed to explore the aspects of the program that were helpful or challenging among youth mentees and survivor mentors. We reflect on the success of mentorship interventions in promoting bridges of understanding between populations with different combinations of power and privilege. Emergent themes from the evaluation suggest that this community-based mentorship program led to several positive outcomes, including increased openness to diversity, increased empathy, and increased potential meaning-making for mentor survivors, as well as some challenges such as clearer program expectations and program planning issues. Using a lens of Positive Youth Development and social justice, we detail the lessons learned from this mentoring program for future counselors and psychologists interested in program development and evaluation. We also provide reflections on the formative program evaluation process for future community-based researchers and the personal impact of the experience on the students in training. Finally, we reflect on impact validity and the systems level transformative change that can be promoted through community-based programs such as this one.
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