Press Releases


Dr. Stelter Appointed to the MENTOR NC Board of Directors

Durham, NC, May 5, 2021 – innovation Research & Training is pleased to announce Dr. Rebecca Stelter’s appointment to the MENTOR NC  Board of Directors.

MENTOR NC is a non-profit organization that is a state affiliate of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership that is “dedicated to increasing the number of youth in quality mentoring relationships across North Carolina while working to address the systemic barriers that young people face on a daily basis.”

Read the full article…


iRT Awarded NIGMS Grant

Durham, NC, September 30, 2020 – innovation Research & Training (iRT) is expanding its suite of mentor training courses to include training for mentors who work with STEM mentoring programs. The National Institute for General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) awarded iRT with a grant (R43GM137663) to fund the development of a new, customizable mentor training course that covers new topics that are particularly relevant for informal STEM learning environments. A primary goal of this training will be to attract and retain youth in a STEM field from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers including first generation college students, youth with a disability, girls, and youth from an ethnic or racial minority group.

Read the full article…


Dr. Rebecca Stelter, a Research Scientist II at iRT, will be co-presenting at the virtual 2021 National Mentoring Summit on Intentional program planning to create a safe (virtual) space for mentees during unprecedented times, on  Friday, 1/29/2021, from 2:14 – 3:45 PM. Dr. Stelter and her co-presenter, Darlene H. Marlin, Senior Director at National Urban League, will discuss the National Urban League’s Project Ready: Mentor program. The Project Ready: Mentor provides group mentoring to prepare students for college, work, and life through the development of 21st Century, as well as other critical social skills. The program also has the goal of fostering personal, global, and cultural awareness. Project Ready: Mentor is built on the research-based best practices outlined in the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring and the 110 years of the NUL’s racial justice and education work. This session will provide attendees with key practices for creating physically and emotionally safe spaces for mentees to participate in a group mentoring program that meets their needs and builds their assets.


iRT Partners with College Access for All

iRT has partnered with College Access for All, an initiative developed by NYC Schools and Mayor Bill de Blasio to ensure all students are engaged in a “college-ready” culture.

Hundreds of schools participate in this initiative, which was designed to help students form a career and college plan upon graduation from high school. College Access for All provides several support services for students, including funding Student Success Centers, eliminating application fees to the City University of New York, and providing for high school juniors to take the SAT for free.

Read the full article…


Janis Kupersmidt Receives a William T. Grant Research Award

December 18, 2017 New York, NY–The William T. Grant Foundation is pleased to announce that Janis Kupersmidt, innovation Research & Training, Jean E. Rhodes, Dept. of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Boston, Sarah Schwartz, Dept. of Psychology, Suffolk University, and Renee Spencer, Dept. of Human Behavior, School of Social Work, Boston University, received a Research Award under the Foundation’s Reducing Inequality focus area. This grant funds high quality, empirical projects that examine programs, policies, and practices that can reduce inequality among young people in the U.S. Their three-year grant is in the amount of $582,150.

“I am excited about this study and am hopeful that leveraging a mentoring intervention will help to improve academic outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and low-income college students” said Adam Gamoran, President of the Foundation.

For more information, see the William T. Grant Foundation.


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Webinar: Applying the EEPM 4 to Diverse Models and Youth Populations [free]

Applying the EEPM 4 to Diverse Models and Youth Populations [free]

2/25/16 1-2:30pm EST

~ 75 minutes

Applying the EEPM 4 to Diverse Models and Youth Populations will provide attendees with an interactive discussion on how the Elements of Effective Practice applies to mentoring programs given the diverse array of mentee and mentor populations and program models. In addition, we will solicit questions and feedback from attendees regarding how the EEPM applies to their programs.

Take the free training at: Free Mentoring Central

[Webinar] Risk Management Part 2 – 1pm (EST) Feb. 16, 2016

Risky Business (Part 2): Developing your mentoring program’s risk management policies [free]

Take the Free Training at Free Mentoring Central

A mentoring relationship cannot be considered effective unless it is safe. Training on ethics and safety in mentoring is critical to ensuring the health and well-being of mentees and mentors. The recently released Fourth Edition of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring (EEPM) identified a set of risk management topics that programs should address in their policies and include in their training of mentors, mentees, and parent or guardians. This three-part webinar series will focus on how mentoring programs can decrease the potential for harm to anyone involved in a mentoring relationship.

Join our expert researchers (Drs. Janis Kupersmidt and Rebecca Stelter) and practitioner (Ms. Sharon Daura) who will provide a thorough exploration of the 19 risk management topics outlined in the EEPM, with the goal of helping you to fine-tune your existing program policies or develop new ones.  After you attend these webinars, you will understand the importance and relevance of each topic for mentoring as well as key issues to address in your policies.  Future training will focus on how to conduct mentor, mentee, and parent or guardian training on these policies.

The second webinar in the series focuses on issues to consider in a mentoring program’s risk management policies and practices that are related to communications by mentors, mentees, parents or guardians, and the mentoring program with individuals, organizations, and media outlets that are outside of the mentoring relationship.

Celebrating 25 Years of the Youth Mentoring Movement

Monday, November 9, New York City—The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) is proud to celebrate 25 years of building and unifying a youth mentoring movement in 2015! This yearlong celebration will include a special event at The Plaza Hotel on Monday, November 9 honoring MENTOR’s co-founders and commemorating a quarter of a century of milestones and achievements in the field. More on this celebration:

Advanced Screening

November 17, Boston–Join Mass Mentoring Partnership for an advanced training that will build upon the basics of screening. Participants will have the opportunity to refine program eligibility requirements, receive feedback on program applications and interview forms, enhance awareness of red flags, and practice relevant steps in the screening process.  Participants will receive MMP’s Advanced Screening Workbook which contains useful tools and templates to support screening of volunteers and mentors. Register:

National Mentoring Month: Amplifying Your Voice

November 19, 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., EDT–Planning to participate in National Mentoring Month this January? Join this webinar to learn best practices for amplifying your voice during this yearly recruitment campaign. We will feature panelists from Midlands Mentoring Partnership in Nebraska, TeamMates Mentoring in Iowa and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mid-South in Tennessee. Each presenter will speak on a different way to engage throughout the month. Whether you represent a small, mid-size or large program, there will be plenty of useful information shared. Register now! Facilitated by MENTOR. For more information:

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Celebrating STEM Day by Evaluating Mentor-Based STEM Programs

By Janis Kupersmidt

National STEM Day was last week, and we took the opportunity to celebrate all the great STEM mentoring programs across the country. Whether a child is in kindergarten, fifth grade, or about to graduate high school, there’s a program designed to build their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. But that raises an important question: what practices make a STEM mentoring program effective?

With the plethora of STEM programs available–the past few years have seen especially quick growth in STEM resources for youth in the U.S.–it’s important for STEM mentoring programs to be aware of the best practices they should follow. While the research on STEM mentoring programs has grown, there has not been a comprehensive, practitioner-friendly synthesis of that research to guide program practices. We teamed up with MENTOR, the nation’s leading youth mentoring advocacy organization, to create a STEM Supplement to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring (4th Edition) that provides research-based recommendations for STEM mentoring programs in designing their program operations. The STEM Supplement is available for free right here, and covers everything from general design principles to specific methods of program evaluation. Although there are dozens of ways STEM programs can educate and nurture an interest in STEM among young people, we remain focused on the heart of mentoring –that is, the relationship between mentors and mentees.

For example, finding the right mentors for STEM programs is crucial for creating a sustainable and high-quality mentoring relationship. It may seem self-evident, but recruiting mentors who have a background in a STEM field–and especially those who are members of underrepresented groups such as STEM professionals who are women, have a disability, in a racial or ethnic minority group, or were a first generation college student, –facilitates the creation of role models for all mentees.

There are mentoring programs across the country using proven strategies to educate and encourage children to engage in STEM fields through a mentoring relationship, and innovative case studies about several of these programs are highlighted throughout this publication.

Whether it’s the Sea Research Foundation’s method of screening potential mentors, or how Genentech’s Futurelab keeps their program members engaged through responsive and focused communication, many STEM programs are on the cutting edge of STEM mentoring.

Having the proper tools for program development will allow STEM programs to rely on proven techniques, while simultaneously giving them the time they need to find their individual strengths. Ultimately, we hope that the STEM Supplement will be an essential resource that mentoring programs will return to throughout their lifespan.

Bridging the Mentoring Gap in Sports-Based Youth Development

By Janis Kupersmidt

I recently had an opportunity to present to and participate in the U.S. Soccer Foundation’s ninth annual Urban Soccer Symposium in Washington, D.C.

The symposium is a three-day forum for national soccer coaches and program administrators to share best-practices for improving the field of sports-based youth development. I was honored to be part of a distinguished panel which discussed the role that sports-based youth development programs can play in bridging the mentorship gap and ways in which to leverage the role of a coach to provide youth with positive mentoring relationships.

In the United States alone, more than 35 million children between the ages of 8 and 19 participate in some form of youth sports. Another 5 million engage on an occasional basis, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association annual survey of households.

Youth coaches have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to train young athletes through the drills that help hone their skills. More importantly, coaches also have the responsibility and opportunity to develop these players into not just great athletes, but healthier and more satisfied people, too.

Coaching relationships are based on shared interests and attend to the social, emotional, and physical needs of youth, elevating coaches and athletic administrators to prime mentor candidates, allowing them significant potential to meet and exceed the impact of traditional mentorships.

Every word uttered and every action taken by youth coaches can have a huge impact in the lives of these players, both positively and negatively. Athletes are constantly faced with moments of success and failure, and with calls from officials both good and bad. The words and actions of coaches in in these situations can stick with these players forever.

With proper mentoring from a coach, a young person can potentially absorb some of the most valuable life lessons on the athletic field. Youth coaches can exemplify the importance of hard work and what it takes to be a champion. They can teach about failure, and how to respond with resilience, grit, and an attitude that fuels a determination to succeed, gaining valuable self-confidence in the process.

The countless hours that youth spend with their sports coaches can have tremendous impact on youth during an impressionable phase of their lives. By observing and communicating with coaches, young people can be effected not only as an athlete, but as a career professional, adult, and contributing member of society.

One conclusion we can draw from the research on coaching and youth sports is that coaches shouldn’t be focused solely on winning and losing, and need to focus on the whole person while they also provide feedback on skills development. We need coaches who want to serve as change agents in the lives of youth by integrating a stronger mentoring perspective into the approaches that coaches take in working with youth. They have a tremendous potential to guide children, build their self-confidence, and ingrain positive values and sportsmanship, while also highlighting the importance of education, good sportsmanship, and physical fitness to get youth on an overall path to success in life.

The benefits of organized sports on youth can’t be ignored. Whether it’s preventing obesity, improving graduation rates, reducing the risks of youth violence or substance use, inspiring confidence and mental health, research shows sports positively affect all of these. Coaches may have winning on their minds, but it is those who nurture positive youth development that end up with players who succeed in life. In the end, although it may just be a game, the benefits of participation and of coaches approaching their job from a mentoring perspective are endless.

The Significance of Ethics and Safety Training in Youth Mentoring Programs

By Janis Kupersmidt

Successful youth mentoring relationships can provide fertile ground for teaching and learning, sharing and growing, renewing or establishing positive social benefits to the community and to the future. These pairings, however, also may bear the dynamic of power relationships, including the need to navigate confidentiality and its limits, and the responsibility to build an edifice of trust.

If not carefully addressed upfront, the inherent imbalance of power could lead to abuse in the mentor-mentee relationship. Typically, mentors have more knowledge, experience, and status, and in most cases are in a position of authority over the mentee. Even a mentor who is not very senior has a great deal of power relative to a mentee. The mentee has much to gain from the mentor’s support and advocacy, and fear of jeopardizing that support makes the relationship particularly imbalanced. Read the full article…

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Research Assistant

By Richard Van Horn

POSITION TITLE:  Research Assistant
EMPLOYER:  Innovation Research & Training
LOCATION (City, State):  Durham, NC

START DATE:  Available immediately


Innovation Research & Training (IRT) seeks a part- or full-time Research Assistant to work on qualitative and quantitative research, training and intervention development, technical assistance, and customer support projects in the fields of mentoring and prevention.

Job Description: Participate as a team member on research, evaluation, training, technical assistance, and customer support projects. Responsibilities include conducting scientific literature reviews; assisting with writing presentations, manuscripts, and grant proposals; recruiting study participants; collecting, transcribing, coding, and entering data; maintaining meeting minutes; helping with developing and writing in-person and online training and intervention programs; and assisting with customer support and administrative work.

Requirements: 2 or more years of research experience in psychology or related field as an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate. Must be able to work as a team member as well as independently; take initiative; be extremely attentive to detail; and have excellent interpersonal skills. The successful candidate will need to be familiar with all Microsoft Office programs as well as have strong writing and verbal communication skills.

Compensation:  Salary is based upon education and previous work experience. We offer a comprehensive benefits package which includes BCBS health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, short- and long-term disability, PTO, an employer-matched SIMPLE IRA, and more. Drug-free, smoke-free work environment. No relocation assistance available.

Company:  iRT is a small behavioral science research and development firm located in Durham, North Carolina. IRT specializes in the development, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based prevention and intervention programs and services to improve the lives of children, adolescents, and families.

Our team is working entirely remotely due to COVID-19. All interviews will be held via video conference.

 If interested, please submit a cover letter including your available start date, CV or resume, at least one scientific writing sample, and three references to Dr. Janis Kupersmidt at


Health Communications Writer

By Mentoring Central

POSITION TITLE:  Health Communications Writer
EMPLOYER:  Innovation Research & Training
LOCATION (City, State):  Durham, NC


innovation Research & Training (iRT) seeks a part-time writer to work on health and social media communications starting in February 2021. We are looking for a highly motivated, creative, self-starter who can write with a customer-centered mindset about the research, products, and services relevant to iRT’s work, with a focus on our projects in the field of youth mentoring. If you have strong writing skills and desire to make a difference in the lives of children and families, read about our work and consider joining our team!

iRT is a small behavioral sciences research company that specializes in the creation of evidence-based, health promotion and asset-building interventions and resources. Our mission is to create products and services that improve the well-being of youth, families, schools, communities, and organizations. Technological innovations are fundamental to our mission.

Job Description:  The person in this position will contribute to developing and implementing communication strategies for the projects, products, and people at iRT in the field of mentoring.

The ideal candidate would be able to start immediately.


  • Coursework in communications, preferably in health and social media communication
  • Excellent knowledge of grammar and punctuation
  • Must be flexible and able to handle multiple projects simultaneously
  • 1-2 years of experience in a communications field
  • Proficiency using Microsoft products (e.g., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
  • Must be legally able to work in the U.S.

Experience with the following desired:

  • Use of a customer relations management (CRM) software program
  • eHealth or eLearning programs
  • Google Analytics
  • Social media communications
  • Marketing or strategic communications
  • Social media scheduling software
  • Being a mentor to a child or adolescent

If you are interested in working with our team, please submit a cover letter including your available start date, your resume, a writing sample, and three references to