Youth Mentoring Program

Policy Letter 19-02

Publication Date: October 16, 2018

Date: October 16, 2018

This policy letter describes the Refugee Support Services set-aside program, the Youth Mentoring (YM) program.1 The YM program will fund grantees to match eligible youth with mentors who will support successful integration and help the youth to thrive. The letter defines the YM program’s goals, eligible populations, and reporting and monitoring. Information about funding allocations can be found in a separate Dear Colleague letter located on the ORR website.

Program Goals and Services
The YM program’s goals are to promote positive civic and social engagement and support individual educational and vocational advancement. To accomplish these goals, grantees will match eligible youth with positive adult mentors who will provide the youth with personalized interaction. Grantees will also provide case management to support educational and career development.

As part of the YM program, grantees are required to:

  • Perform an initial assessment of the needs and goals of the youth and develop a plan to meet those needs through educational, vocational, and social activities.
  • Provide case management that includes documenting services provided and the progress of each youth toward meeting the youth’s needs and goals.
  • Recruit and train mentors on how to support refugee youth.
  • Screen potential mentors to see if the person has a criminal history or a history of child abuse.

Grantees may also develop an incentive program that encourages youth to participate in the YM program. Incentives may include but are not limited paying registration fees or tuition costs for educational, vocational, apprenticeships, and career development activities or providing donated goods such as computers. If a grantee chooses to establish an incentive program, the grantee must document the policy and ensure the program is implemented in a fair and consistent way.

Activities under the YM program should focus around the following areas.

  • Development of social and life skills.
  • Helping youth to learn American culture while maintaining and celebrating the youth’s cultural heritage.
  • Providing opportunities for social engagement with peers.
  • Providing information about opportunities to participate in civic and community services activities.
  • Supporting youth in learning English, math, and other skills.
  • Providing academic support, such as helping with homework, and assisting with transitions in school such as the transition between middle school and high school or high school to post-secondary education.
  • Helping youth with career development including skill building, resume drafting, worker’s rights, and training opportunities.
  • Supporting youth in developing health and financial literacy.

Eligible Populations
YM program services may be provided to all ORR-eligible individuals2 between the ages of 15-24. Grantees may provide services to ORR-eligible youth within the first five years of their arrival but recipients should prioritize services to youth who have been in the United States for one year or less and those requiring additional social, academic, vocational, or emotional support.

Reporting and Monitoring
Grantees must report all YM program activities, accomplishments and challenges in the ORR-6. The ORR-6 forms, instructions, and reporting schedule are available on the ORR website. The narrative must include information about the number of clients served, the type and frequency of services provided, program initiatives, and challenges and accomplishments in administering the program.

ORR will monitor the YM program to ensure that the services provided meet the needs of ORR-eligible populations. Grantees are responsible for monitoring sub-grantees. ORR will assess how services are provided and identify promising practices and trends for further analysis and information sharing.

If you have questions about the information in this Policy Letter, please contact your ORR Regional Representative.

E. Scott Lloyd, Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement


1. Section 412(c) of the Refugee Act authorizes the Director of ORR to allocate funds to states for specific needs recognized by the director.

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