An International Database and eJournal for Outcome-Evaluation and Research


Club Amigas: an effective response to the needs of adolescent latinas


Background. This paper is a description of a mentoring program for adolescent Latinas that paired Latina college students with middle school girls in a suburb of New York City, and a report of the evaluation of that program. The program targets adolescent Latinas in middle school, who belong to a group considered at high risk for dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, and mental health and substance abuse problems.

The Latino population is growing faster than any other group in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by the year 2010 Latinos will constitute almost 16% of the U.S. population, and by 2050 they will comprise 25% of the population. Young Latinos in the U.S. face the stresses created by poverty, discrimination, and acculturation. Specifically, adolescent Latinas are a potentially high resource-using group. Their school drop-out rate has been estimated at 25%, possibly the highest in the nation, and they have a higher pregnancy rate than either African-American or non-Hispanic white adolescents. They are also at high risk for mental health and substance abuse problems. They make more suicide attempts than African-American or white adolescent girls, and also have a higher risk of lifetime use of alcohol and illegal drugs. Research has shown that the ability to adapt to life in the US while retaining one's cultural heritage is essential for successful acculturation and may increase the chances for success in school.

Recent research has shown that mentoring relationships can enhance adolescents' social and emotional competence. Mentoring programs have increased in the U.S. because they have been shown to promote resiliency and enhance the lives of young people, especially when the mentoring relationship is characterized by closeness and continuity. The greatest benefit appears to accrue to young people from backgrounds of environmental risk and disadvantage rather than merely personal vulnerability.

Club Amigas is a mentoring project that pairs Latina college students with Latina young adolescents attending schools in the same community. The girls' parents were born in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Central or South America. The program was developed jointly by Marymount College of Fordham University and two public school systems in the northeast U.S. The primary goals of the program are to enhance the girls' self-esteem, their sense of positive Latina identity, and their educational aspirations. Research has shown that achieving these goals can serve as protective factors to build resilience and mitigate negative outcomes.

Research questions and methods. A pre-experimental evaluation (one group pre-post design) was conducted in the second year of the Club Amigas program. Three specific hypotheses were tested:

  • Girls' self-esteem is positively correlated with their positive commitment to their Latina identity.
  • Girls' self-esteem will increase over the program year.
  • Girls' commitment to a positive Latina identity will strengthen over the program year.

This was primarily a quantitative evaluation with some qualitative data. The sample consisted of 34 girls for whom both pretest and posttest data were available, which was self-administered using the following instruments: The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Bi-Dimensional Acculturation Scale for Hispanics, and the Multi-Group Ethnic Identity Measure.

Key findings. Quantitative Findings: Bivariate statistical tests (Chi Square, Pearson correlations, and paired t-tests) were used to analyze the data. The first hypothesis tested, that self-esteem is related to the strength of positive Latina identification, was partly supported. At pre-test and post-test higher self-esteem was significantly correlated with stronger feelings of belonging to one's ethnic group. Self-esteem increased over the program year, as did the girls' use of the Spanish language, and their sense of belonging to their ethnic group. Higher self-esteem at post-test was associated with greater use of the Spanish language (See Table 1).

Qualitative Findings: Girls' self-reports indicated that they regarded educational goals (26.5%), personal development (38.2%), and socialization (35.3%) as the most important aspects of Club Amigas. One girl's self-report indicated that the program gave her a vision of a positive future.

Tab. 1 - Zero-order Correlations among Study Outcomes at Pre-test and Post-test

A. Pre-test




1. Self-Esteema




2. BAS




3. Explore Identity




4. Identity Commit




B. Post-test




1. Self-Esteema




2. BAS




3. Explore Identify




4. Identity Commit




Note. All p values reported are based on one-tailed tests.

a A higher score indicates lower self-esteem

b This correlation of r= -.286 was marginally significant (p = .054)

*p ≤ .05; **p≤.01; ***p ≤ .001

Implications and recommendations. Future research should examine the impact of the program on school grades, attitudes toward school, and interest in attending college. Future evaluations should include a comparison group. Mentoring adolescent Latinas may hold promise for increasing resiliency and decreasing vulnerability.

 Key references

Beam, M., Chen, C. & Greenberger, E. (2002). The nature of adolescents' relationships with their "very important non-parental adults". American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 305-325.

Dubois, D. & Silverthorn, T. (2005). Characteristics of natural mentoring relationships and adolescent adjustment: Evidence from a national study. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 26(2), 69-92.

Turner, S., Kaplan, C. & Badger, L. (2006). Adolescent Latinas' adaptive functioning and sense of well-being. Affilia, 21(3), 272-281.

Contacts: Sandra G. Turner, Ph.D., Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, 113 W. 60th Street, New York, NY 10023, E-mail: sturner@fordham.edu, Phone 212-636-6672.


© copyright 2023 Outcome-Network.org all rights reserved, in partnership with FondazioneZancan | iaOBERfcs | read the legal notice.