Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Deborah P. Welsh

Committee Members

Jenn Bolden, Bob Kronick, Delores Smith


Social support is conceptualized as a protective factor that buffers against distress and dysfunction. Social support can be beneficial to all individuals and is usually available through a support system consisting of family and friends. Unfortunately, there are populations that lack effective support systems and consequently do not receive social support. One such population is at-risk youth. In this project, I examined the effects of social support, within the context of participation in youth programs, on the academic, emotional, and behavioral functioning of at-risk youth. Twenty-three adolescents participating in three youth programs were assessed at three time points: the beginning of the youth program (Time 1), four months into the program (Time 2), and at the end of the program (Time 3). Results showed that overall social support increased across the program year. Social support was also found to have a significant relationship with reported self esteem, academic performance, and behavioral dysfunction. These findings can have important implications for mentoring program development.

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