The Need for Developmental Relationships in Schools: A Policy Discussion

On Wednesday, November 30th, Mass Mentoring Partnership (MMP) gathered partners and stakeholders for an in-depth overview and discussion on dropout prevention policy. We shared our policy recommendations on placing developmental relationships in schools as a remedy for high dropout rate in middle and high schools. Feedback and suggestions included stories, knowledge, and experiences about the supports that young people need in schools.  

As previous national research shows time and time again, youth need more than academic support to stay in school and be successful. In a recent survey we conducted with Boston high school students, we found that 41% of students surveyed feel they have no one in their schools to talk about challenges at home or in their communities. Additionally, 30% said they feel like they have no one to talk to about problems they are having in the classroom. MMP understands the significant and positive impacts of mentoring on two early indicators of high school dropout: high levels of absenteeism and recurring disciplinary problems in school. Youth who are engaged in developmental relationships are less likely to skip school than their peers and are more likely to present better attitudes and behaviors and go on to attend college. 

As a solution to this prevalent issue, we believe graduation coaches can serve as a constant and supportive  presence for at-risk youth within school buildings. In providing wraparound support, graduation coaches add an additional layer of Social and Emotional Support (SES) that is integral to the holistic well-being of students. 

Over the last year, MMP has broadened our advocacy efforts from solely focusing on allocated state funding for youth mentoring to support initiatives like dropout prevention and recovery policy. MMP has supported and testified in favor of two bills related to the graduation coach initiative, but in the last year, we have taken substantial steps to create a systemic approach to dropout prevention and recovery.

At our policy gathering, we presented these policy recommendations that are based on conversations we've had with constituents, youth, collaborators, and legislators. With a narrow focus on SES in schools, we hope to see a bill filed in January that addresses high dropout rates statewide. We believe these youth-adult relationships in schools are key to ensuring young people achieve academic success and brighter futures. Furthermore, we believe this work is critical to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. 

MMP Policy Recommendations Resources

                                     Dropout Prevention Policy Recommendations PPT_0.PNG                                                           MMP Dropout Prevention Policy Recs Snap.PNG

                                            Embedding Developmental Relationships in Schools                                                  The Need for Wraparound Social Emotional Supports in Schools 

Other Dropout Prevention Resources 

GradNation - "Don't Quit on Me" 

GradNation - "Don't Call Them Dropouts" 

don't call them dropouts.PNG


We always welcome resources, feedback, and suggestions from the community. Have something to share? Comment below or email Chelsea Aquino, Manager of Government Relations and Public Policy at