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Peer teaching, Mentoring, Youth -- Counseling of, College students -- Mental health -- United States, Social work with youth


This brief shares best practices learned on the Project Futures research study being conducted at Portland State University and local community colleges in Portland, Oregon. The study is testing evidence-based mentoring strategies for underserved students, in this case college freshmen with lived experience in foster care and with mental health stressors. Campus-based mentoring is an increasingly popular strategy to better support under-represented students, who in addition to navigating the typical challenges of college life, may face additional barriers to student success, such as:

  • Homelessness or housing instability and/or financial insecurity with no safety net,
  • Mental health and trauma,
  • Starting college academically behind their peers, or
  • Lack of belonging or difficulty finding ways to engage with peers and community.

To learn more about addressing the needs of these under-represented students, Project Futures provided one-on-one near-peer mentoring. This approach is based on previous research1 showing that such students respond well to coaching by near-peer mentors, with similar lived experience, who are trained to help them identify and work towards academic and social goals.


A product of the Research and Training Center for Pathways to Positive Futures, Portland State University.

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