With the proliferation of formal mentoring programs in schools it is important to understand the nature of mentoring and the outcomes that can be expected. This paper examines the findings of a national pilot project of mentoring programs for indigenous students, and interprets them in terms of motivation and the socio-cultural contexts which supported the mentoring relationship. The pilot projects were implemented in 53 school sites around Australia. The evaluation used multiple methods, including document analysis, checklists and semi-structured interviews with participants. The findings showed that students who were supported by a mentor (usually one-to-one)for as little as one hour per week displayed and reported increased self-confidence, enhanced valuing of school and increased participation in classroom tasks. Students also improved relationships with peers, teachers and family members. The paper discusses the socially supported nature of the mentoring relationship and its role in community building.