YMCA Plusone Mentoring

Brief Description

YMCA Plusone Mentoring is a community-based mentoring program (traditional mentoring with a 1:1 adult to youth ratio) which places the young person at the centre of the intervention and takes into consideration the context in which they are living, as well as their particular needs. As such, the program activities are geared towards motivating the youth and helping them overcome the challenges they face at home, in school, and in their life in general. In doing so, Plusone Mentoring deters those most at risk of coming into contact with the youth justice system from going down that path.

The program is centered on community mobilization; mentoring – tutoring; skills training


The main goals of the YMCA Plusone Mentoring program are to:

  • Reduce aggressive, offending, and antisocial behaviour in at-risk youth;
  • Help youth develop resiliency, self-esteem and conflict-management; and
  • Increase academic/career aspirations and motivation among youth.


The appropriate clientele for the YMCA Plusone Mentoring program are youth between the ages of 10-17 who have been in contact with the youth justice system, are in care, new to Canada, Aboriginal, a visible minority, live in the inner-city, and show two or more risk factors (such as substance abuse, gang relations, disengagement with school, aggressive or antisocial beahviour, an association with antisocial peers, and relationship problems within the family).

Participants will be identified and recruited through a referral system which involves a variety of community partners.

Core Components

The Plusone program youth cohorts consist of 20 cases per year, and each service point hosts 2 cohorts per year. Participation in Plusone lasts an average of one year, ranging from 9 to 15 months. The Program components include;

  • Mentor and mentee matching: Information gathered from initial meetings with candidates from the program, as well as information shared by the referring party and community partners, are used to inform the matching process between mentor and mentee;
  • One-on-one mentoring and community/group based activities:
    • At first, youth and their mentors meet 2-3 hours a week on average to establish the trust fundamental to the relationship;
    • Once the matches are determined, an intervention/development plan is created for the mentees by a support worker, which is tailored to the youth and their specific needs;
    • Mentors will engage and accompany their mentees in targeted activities such as skill/capacity building workshops (such as conflict resolution and anger management), health related (both mental and physical), or cultural activities; and
    • Mentors and support workers will encourage the mentees to engage in positive, healthy developmental activities providing them the opportunity for potential to be realized. Such activities include participation in clubs, sports teams, communal/cultural groups, etc.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The YMCA Plusone Mentoring program must be implemented in collaboration with the YMCAs of Quebec, as YMCA Scotland and the YMCAs of Quebec have established essential elements and standards for the program that must be respected by a host organization to ensure fidelity to the program model. The host organization should be a YMCA or another community-based organization with a youth oriented vocation that has working partnerships with other youth serving agencies and community stakeholders. Also, the program should have access to a community recreation centre or similar location.
  • Partnerships: Partnership agreements with community partners is important to the Plusone program, as  participants should be identified and recruited through a referral system which involves a variety of community partners, such as schools, youth-based organisations, police, health agencies, the social work and youth care networks.
  • Training and technical assistance: Staff and mentors must have previous experience working with youth, and more specifically at-risk youth. Initial training for the program and its elements should be provided to the Program Facilitators and supervisors by the YMCAs of Quebec. In addition, program supervisors and facilitators are provided ongoing local training to further their expertise in youth work and mentoring. Annual training conferences will also be hosted by the YMCAs of Quebec.
  • Risk assessment tools: Recruit and select participants to the project that match the characteristics of the intended participant group for the Crime Prevention Action Fund Plusone program through validated risk and assessment tools. The referral and risk assessment processes were designed by YMCA Scotland with guidance from the Criminal Justice Social Work Center at The University of Edinburgh and have been adapted to the Canadian context.
  • Materials & resources: It is important to implement a comprehensive, electronic information management system (IMS) to support the project’s information and reporting needs.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to YMCAs of Quebec for the YMCA Plusone Mentoring program, which is being implemented in four different locations in Canada from 2016 to 2021: Surrey (BC), Moncton (NB), Regina (SK), and Montreal (QC).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation study of YMCA Plusone Mentoring was carried out between December 2016 and March 2021 by Harry Cummings & Associates Inc. The evaluation methodology included a mixed-methods design, incorporating qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis techniques throughout four intervals. A dose-response analytic framework and contribution analysis were used to assess causality in the absence of a comparison group.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Improvements in schools functionality were reported by about half of the parents (46%, 28 of 61), while mentors reported that as many as 53% of the mentees (64 of 120) that had engagement challenges at school at the start of the program experienced positive changes by the program completion.
  • About a third of mentees (31%, 10 of 32) that had contact with youth protection services prior to entering the program did not have contact while in the program and over half of the mentees (53%, 21 of 40) that had an academic suspension prior to entering the program did not have one while in the program.
  • Approximately 28% of parents (13 of 47) reported that their child experienced a positive change in how they engaged with others, while mentors reported that as many as 59% of the mentees (65 of 111) known to have social isolation issues at the start of the program experienced a positive change by the end of the program.
  • The Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale (CAFAS) indicated that 42% (16 of 38) of mentees experienced positive developments in their daily behaviour and that 26% (10 of 38) experienced positive developments in their self-harmful behaviours.
  • Of the 12 mentees that completed the program and had charges of offence prior to entering the program, 11 did not experience any additional charges while participating in the program.
  • A substantial proportion of youth experienced significant positive changes in their functionality and lowered their risk according to CAFAS results across the 6 month, 9 month, and end of program stages, with 53% (9 of 17) of youth experiencing further positive developments related to their functionality six months beyond program completion.

Cost Information

The average cost per youth participant accepted into the program was $8,479 (CAD), including project site costs and YMCA HQ costs. Excluding YCMA HQ costs, the average cost was $5,899 (CAD). The average cost per youth matched with a mentor with all costs included (project site costs and YMCA HQ costs) was $12,107. Including only project site costs, the average cost per youth matched to a mentor was $8,423. For youth that experienced significant improvements in functionality, the average program cost including all costs was $75,026, and including only project site costs was $52,198.


Harry Cummings & Associates Inc. (2021). YMCA Plusone Mentoring. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

For more information on this program, contact:

YMCAs of Quebec

School Success Sector

5550 Park Avenue

Montreal, Quebec, H2V 4H1

Telephone: (416) 967-9622

Website: https://www.plusonementoring.ca

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-15
Record Updated On - 2022-01-17
Date modified: