What is an Influential Adult?
An influential adult is an individual in a young person’s life that offers guidance, support, and encouragement. Influential adults can be parents or relatives, teachers, youth workers, coaches, or any other adult in an empowering relationship with a young person that develops their capacity to grow and thrive. They act as role models and resource brokers, helping to connect youth to new people, places, and experiences. Influential adults share key characteristics that support their ability to engage in supportive relationships with young people.
- Committed and Consistent: Influential adults have a genuine desire to be part of young people’s lives and invest time and energy to develop positive relationships with youth.
- Respectful: Influential adults take young people and their needs seriously and treat them fairly. Influential adults listen first and speak last. They help by asking questions and giving youth an opportunity to explore their thoughts and ideas.
- Caring: Influential adults are present and show interest in a young person’s life.
- Resourceful: Influential adults are practical and share insights and personal experiences to encourage young people to be successful.
- Patient: Influential adults understand that adolescence is a time filled with change and uncertainty and show empathy and care to support youth.
- Supportive: Influential Adults focus on youth people’s strengths and have high expectations that they can achieve their potential.
Influential Adults don’t have to have all the answers. This Toolkit has the information you need to help a young person navigate the path to college with your support. Sharing and demonstrating the importance of seeking out help and resources when needed can provide a valuable learning experience for youth and is an important task of an Influential Adult. Through relationships with Influential Adults, young people can expand their horizons and connect to opportunities for success in college, careers and life.
Adapted from: Search Institute, The Development Relationships Framework, search-institute.org/downloadable/Dev-Relationships-Framework-Sept2014.pdf
Adapted from: United Way of America and The Enterprise Foundation, Source: Partnerships for Success: A Mentoring Program Manual, 1990.