There are two significant articles that have come out recently reaffirming the importance of Real-World Learning and building relationships as part of the experience of high school.
This article reveals the importance of building cross-class relationships to enable economic mobility:
These cross-class friendships — what the researchers called economic connectedness — had a stronger impact than school quality, family structure, job availability or a community’s racial composition. The people you know, the study suggests, open up opportunities, and the growing class divide in the United States closes them off.
While this article is focused on cross-class friendships, it is intuitive that student/mentor relationships that are cross-class would have at least as strong an impact on student access to opportunity.
This research article examines the risks of an "institution-centric, rather than student-centric" approach to building mentor networks. ImBlaze is mentioned as a key tool that schools can use to build student-centered Real-World Learning that is sustainable.