Press Releases


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.

To assist students and teachers, College Access for All compiles a vendor list of programs for middle and high schools developed to benefit at-risk students. iRT now has two products included in College Access for All’s vendor list: the Connected Scholars program and the Aware program. The Connected Scholars program is a college preparatory curriculum designed to engage students in Youth-Initiated Mentoring practices as well as other career and professional development skills. Students in the Connected Scholars program learn how to build on and enhance their existing relationships to create a network of support for their academic and career success. The Aware program is a mindfulness education program for teenagers designed to help adolescents skillfully refine their abilities to regulate their emotions and make healthy decisions. For all its products, iRT uses research-based methods to design and implement programs that are intended to have the greatest possible impact.

In addition to participating in the online dissemination efforts used by College Access for All, iRT Research Specialist Karen Burns attended the College Access for All Expo on May 17, 2018, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. She spoke with school administrators and staff, as well as other partner organizations, about the Connected Scholars and Aware programs.

iRT is excited to collaborate with the NYC Department of Education in their pursuit of expanding college readiness to all students. We look forward to continuing to impact youth in positive ways in New York Schools and throughout the United States and the world.

For more information about the topics discussed in this article, please visit the links below.

College Access for All

Connected Scholars Program

AWARE Mindfulness Program

Innovation Research and Training, Inc.



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.



Dr. Kupersmidt to Meet with Enrollment and Match Support Specialists at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Moscow

November 14, 2017 – Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, President and Senior Research Scientist at iRT and Mentoring Central, met with mentoring program staff in Moscow at the office of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Dr. Kupersmidt presented findings from iRT’s research on their online mentee training program, Building the Foundation for Mentees, and online parent/guardian training, Building the Foundation for Parents. In addition, she responded to questions about match support, supporting mentoring relationships with youth in foster care, the importance of training mentors on the ethical code for mentoring, staff training, and the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring.


Dr. Kupersmidt to be a Keynote Speaker at Russia’s First International Mentoring Conference

November 13, 2017 – Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, President and Senior Research Scientist at iRT and Mentoring Central, will be the keynote speaker at Global Mentori , Russia’s First International Mentoring Conference. The conference will take place November 13th-14th in Moscow. The theme of the conference is “Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Mentoring”, and will feature speakers from throughout Europe and the world. Dr. Kupersmidt will present findings from her latest research projects on how mentoring programs can implement practices that can improve match and youth outcomes. In addition, her collaborator, Dr. Jean Rhodes, Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will present an overview of the status of mentoring in the U.S. in a previously recorded video. For more information, see


Dr. Kupersmidt to Speak in the Netherlands about Latest Research News about Youth Mentoring

November 9, 2017 – Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, iRT’s and Mentoring Central’s President and Senior Research Scientist, and Eline Heppe, doctoral student at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, presented at the Center of Expertise Social Innovation, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, on “Increasing the Effectiveness of Mentoring by Enhancing Mentoring Program Practices”. Rotterdam University has partnered with local high schools and primary schools to develop mentoring relationships between the university’s students and youth from South Rotterdam, an area of the city with a high percentage of dropouts and youth unemployment. The audience for this presentation included a diverse group of representatives from mentoring programs across Rotterdam, including Big Brothers Big Sisters or Rotterdam, researchers, city government officials and funders providing support to mentoring activities in Rotterdam. iRT is excited about working with mentoring organizations across the globe to help them increase their impact on the youth they serve. For more information about Mentors of Rotterdam and the work of the Centre of Expertise Innovation, see

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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.

Register at

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

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

Register Here

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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