Cultural Humility Training for Mentors: Lessons Learned and Implications for Youth Programs


  • Amy J. Anderson University of Illinois Chicago
  • April Riordan Independent consultant
  • Lavasha Smith Nexus Community Partners
  • Bridget Hillard Vuyo Consulting, LLC
  • Bernadette Sánchez University of Illinois at Chicago



cultural humility, youth mentoring, mentor training, research-to-practice partnerships


The current paper presents lessons learned from a research-to-practice partnership between mentoring program practitioners and researchers that focused on the development and implementation of a cultural humility training for volunteer mentors. Using multiple data sources (e.g., training materials, field notes, mentor surveys), we present a description of the research-to-practice partnership and the Culturally Smart Relationships pilot training content. We generate practice-oriented lessons to inform future cultural humility training work with staff and volunteers in youth programs. Our lessons reflect recommendations that emerged from five project phases: (a) organizational commitment to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion; (b) training curriculum and logistical planning; (c) “To Zoom, or not to Zoom''; (d) facilitation of the training; and (e) post-training and ongoing support. The pilot training content and lessons learned have implications for youth programs by elucidating training as one component of a broader approach for equity in youth developmental program practice.

Author Biographies

Amy J. Anderson, University of Illinois Chicago

Amy Anderson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of North Texas. Her research interests include youth mentoring relationships, youth social justice engagement, and participatory action research.

April Riordan, Independent consultant

April Riordan is the Chief Operating Officer for Bolder Options, a Minnesota-based youth mentoring program and will earn her M.A. in Organizational Leadership in 2022

Lavasha Smith, Nexus Community Partners

Lavasha Smith holds an M.A. in Organizational Leadership and is the Program Manager of Black Community Trust Fund at Nexus Community Partners.

Bridget Hillard, Vuyo Consulting, LLC

Bridget Hillard is the co-founder of Vuyo Communtiy Partners. She specializes in youth program quality, organizational change and training facilitation. She holds Youth Works Methods and Management Trainer certifications from the Center for Youth Program Quality and also an M.P.A. (Master of Public Affairs) from University of Minnesota. 

Bernadette Sánchez, University of Illinois at Chicago

Bernadette Sánchez is a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is an expert on mentoring relationships and the positive development of urban, low-income adolescents of color, particularly Latinx and African American youth.


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