Natural Mentors, Racial Identity, and Educational Attainment Among African American Adolescents: Exploring Pathways to Success


  • This research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant DA07484 to the third author.

concerning this article should be addressed to Noelle Hurd, Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, University of Michigan, 610 E. University Ave., Room 1323, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Electronic mail may be sent to


The present study explored how relationships with natural mentors may contribute to African American adolescents’ long-term educational attainment by influencing adolescents’ racial identity and academic beliefs. This study included 541 academically at-risk African American adolescents transitioning into adulthood. The mean age of participants at Time 1 was 17.8 (SD = .64) and slightly over half (54%) of study participants were female. Results of the current study indicated that relationships with natural mentors promoted more positive long-term educational attainment among participants through increased private regard (a dimension of racial identity) and stronger beliefs in the importance of doing well in school for future success. Implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.