talks mentoring movement

Transferring a little knowledge systematically

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TALKS Mentoring, engaged in the Champaign-Urbana area since 1995, is an innovative, cognitive-behavioral approach to youth mentoring that focuses on leadership skill development through peer-to-peer and youth-adult interactions.  TALKS implements a structured format by which adult mentors from the community serve as role models for children in the public schools.  Rather than the traditional one-on-one approach to mentoring, TALKS is implemented in a small group setting.  Students are identified by their schools (principals, social workers, teachers) for participation in the program and placed in groups of one adult mentor with three students—usually a racially mixed group with one student who excels, one whose academic performance is average but who could do better with support, and one student who is “at-risk”-academically, behaviorally, or both.  The objective is to generate positive peer pressure for the low functioning child to achieve, but participant testimony suggests that usually all three students benefit. 



TALKS utilizes a content-based curriculum that covers issues such as respect, peer pressure, relationships with siblings, anger management, work ethic, understanding different races and cultures, and having a positive attitude.  Each week, students and their mentor spend 30-45 minutes at their school working on a lesson in the curriculum.  Students read passages along with their mentors and discuss the relevance of each topic to their own lives.  Each chapter includes suggested questions for the mentor to ask the students and quotes for the children to memorize, to help mentors build a “bridge” of wisdom (Figure 1) for these children.  Key programmatic features of TALKS include teaching children how to disagree in a respectful manner, use of the dictionary as a fun learning tool, memorization of wisdom-filled quotes, and weekly recitation of the TALKS thesis statement.


mentoring sessions

What To Expect

When you engage as a TALKS Mentor you can expect to be with the children for thirty minutes per week. The curriculum and structure provide guidance so there is never a problem of "what" to do. The design has you with three children at the same time for your protection. Your responsibility is to follow the highly successful structure, drop some wisdom and go home. 

How To Sign Up

To sign up to mentor in Champaign County you can email us at and we will send you an application. After you complete your application you will then be finger printed followed with a training and our assignment to a school and three children. If you would like to inquire regarding a TALKS Program in your city please do so at the same email. We will respond with the appropriate information.


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Detail 1

Data labels for each bar indicate that predictor variable’s contribution to the overall R-square for the regression model. The overall R-square for the regression on Conflict Resolution was 0.573. The overall R-square for the regression on Social Interactions was 0.339.

Detail 2

For the regression on Conflict Resolution, three of the variables that emerged as significant had a negative association with Conflict Resolution score: Single Parent Household, Female, and Activity level.