Training. Tools. Services.

Consider us your mentoring partner—your single source for training, evaluation tools, and customized services. We support and enhance youth mentoring programs across town and around the world. Some of our clients include Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the National Urban League, Mentoring USA, and the New York City Mentoring for Achievement initiative.

Mentoring Central is a division of innovation Research & Training (iRT).



iRT is a behavioral science research company that develops and evaluates cutting edge products and services—all designed to improve the lives of youth, families, organizations, and communities.

Our Funding. Your Progress.

Our funding comes from grants and contracts that fuel our research and from the sale of products and services that result from that research. We put science first. It is our goal to make our products and services accessible, attractive, and affordable, so that mentoring programs can benefit from what we learn.

Some of the organizations funding our research and product development activities include:
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

As a contract research organization, we also receive contracts from organizations to help them evaluate their programs, and to provide them with training and technical assistance services.

Leadership Foundations
Mentoring for Achievement: Mentoring Program Quality Assessment

IRT, in collaboration with the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring, is conducting the Mentoring for Achievement: Mentoring Program Quality Assessment project. This project includes a certification training process for program managers working in mentoring programs funded by the New York City Young Men's Initiative (YMI). At the project's completion, the YMI mentoring program managers will be trained and certified as EQUIP external reviewers with the skills to assess, monitor, and support the mentoring program quality improvement process with YMI programs. In addition, mentoring programs funded by the city of New York have engaged in a mentoring program quality assessment process to evaluate the alignment of their program practices with the Third Edition of the EEPM and develop quality improvement plans.

Funder: Research Foundation of the City University of New York

Duration: January 2013 – January 2014

Mentoring USA Evaluation Project

The Mentoring USA Evaluation project is funded by Mentoring USA Inc. Through the project, iRT is working with Mentoring USA to develop a set of measures for their program to use to evaluate the effectiveness of Mentoring USA's mentoring program on youth outcomes. In addition, iRT is assisting Mentoring USA in conducting the evaluation, analyzing the evaluation data, and writing a final report based upon the findings.

Funder: Mentoring USA Evaluation Project

Duration: October 2013 — September 2014

National Urban League: Project Ready: Mentor

The National Urban League (NUL) has successfully developed and deployed an innovative college access program, Project Ready, which provides support for middle and high school students. Specifically, the curriculum-based program focuses on life skills, leadership, and social, global, and cultural awareness. The NUL has expanded this program model to include a mentoring component, called Project Ready: Mentor. In support of the mentoring component, iRT will develop the Project Ready: Mentor Program Guide. The Program Guide for Project Ready: Mentor will focus on helping affiliates design and implement a mentoring program for urban children and adolescents (e.g., effective mentor and mentee recruitment strategies; monitoring mentoring relationships). In addition, iRT is making available three Mentoring Central mentor training courses to the thirteen National Urban League Project Ready: Mentor affiliates across the country.

Developing Customized Mentoring Training Project

IRT developed a customized version of its Mentoring Central web-based mentor training program for use by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS). The program will be launched in all BBBS agencies that have access to the AIM system. Up to 100,000 prematch mentors per year will be eligible to complete the web-based training course. As part of the project, iRT also developed an in-person instructor-led version of its Mentoring Central mentor training program.

Funder: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Duration: 2011 — 2013

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

Our Partners for creating brighter futures.

Together with our funders and partners, we strive to elevate mentor relationships. Networking with mentoring organizations, we help strengthen their programs and brighten young people’s futures—all across the country.


Our People. Your Partners.

Our team consists of world-renowned scientists, experienced practitioners, and creative professionals. All are leaders in their fields. Our collaborative approach delivers innovative, evidence-based products that are designed for the real world.

Meet our team:


Janis B. Kupersmidt, Ph.D.

President & Senior Research Scientist

Janis founded iRT more than 15 years ago out of a passion for helping prevent youth from engaging in unhealthy and risky behaviors.

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Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, President and Senior Research Scientist at iRT, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a former tenured professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has published more than 70 peer-reviewed chapters and scientific articles on topics related to mentoring, prevention science, the social and emotional development of children and adolescents, peer relations, delinquency, academic achievement, and aggression.

She is currently the Principal Investigator (PI) on a grant to develop and evaluate the efficacy of a web-based mentor training program. She is also the PI on the Mentee Risk Status and Mentor Training project. The project focuses on factors that affect mentoring outcomes for three populations of youth, namely, children in foster care, children of prisoners, and court-involved youth. The project is designed to develop a youth relationship risk tool that can be used by mentoring programs and create research-based, best practice recommendations about the most effective methods of mentor training and support, particularly for those serving at-risk populations.  She is also the Co-PI on a grant to create evidence-based web and mobile pre-match training for mentees and their caregivers.

Dr. Kupersmidt is a co-author of the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring (EEPM). The EEPM includes the only set of research-based standards and benchmarks for implementing effective youth mentoring programs in the field of mentoring.  Dr. Kupersmidt received her doctorate in Psychology from Duke University.

Jean Rhodes, Ph.D.


Jean's research is focused on two main areas: adolescents' mentoring relationships and young adults' responses to trauma and natural disaster.

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Dr. Jean Rhodes is the MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership Professor of Psychology and the Research Director for the Center for Evidence-based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She has published more than 100 chapters, books and peer-reviewed articles on topics related to youth development and mentoring. Her interests include mentoring relationships, risk and protective factors in adolescent development, emerging adulthood, natural disasters, trauma and resilience, preventive interventions, and the bridging of research, practice, and policy. Her research examines the development of adolescents and young adults with special attention to the role of non-parent adults and the influence of natural disaster.

Dr. Rhodes is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research and Community Action, and a Distinguished Fellow of the William T. Grant Foundation.  Dr. Rhodes is Chair of the Research and Policy Council of the National Mentoring Partnership and sits on the Board of Directors of the National Mentoring Partnership. She is the author of Stand by me: The risks and rewards of mentoring today’s youth (Harvard University Press).  Dr. Rhodes completed her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at DePaul University.

Rebecca Stelter, Ph.D.

Research Scientist II

Rebecca's personal interest in youth mentoring has been expanded with her nine-year involvement as a Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

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Dr. Rebecca Stelter is a Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at iRT. Currently, she is the Co-Principal Investigator on a project to develop training for mentees and their parents or caregivers using a personal computer or mobile device, and the Project Director to develop and evaluate the efficacy of a web-based mentor training program.  She is published in the areas of children’s social and emotional development, and the social information processing skills of aggressive children.

Dr. Stelter is a co-author of  the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring (EEPM).  The EEPM includes the only set of research-based standards and benchmarks for implementing effective youth mentoring programs in the field of mentoring.  Dr. Stelter received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from North Carolina State University.  She has been a Big Sister to her Little for more than nine years.

Alison Parker, Ph.D.

Research Scientist II

Alison is a Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at iRT.

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Dr. Alison Parker is a Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at iRT. She has served as Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator, and Project Director on many projects related to youth mentoring and positive youth development.  In addition, Dr. Parker has been the Principal Investigator on a project to develop and evaluate a mindfulness education program for elementary school students funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and a project for middle school students funded by Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Dr. Parker is currently Principal Investigator on a contract from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to develop and evaluate an online mindfulness-based substance abuse prevention program for adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

Dr. Parker received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from North Carolina State University.

Katie Stump, Ph.D.

Research Scientist

Katie is a developmental psychologist who studies peer relations and social development.

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Dr. Kathryn Stump is a developmental psychologist and the Project Director for a study focused on identifying effective mentoring program practices for serving special population youth.  She serves as the statistician across several mentoring evaluations, including the randomized control trial evaluation of Mentoring Central and a project to evaluate mentoring program enhancements for programs serving children of incarcerated parents.  Dr. Stump has expertise in the areas of social development, peer relations, and quantitative methodology and analysis.

Dr. Stump received her Doctorate in Psychology from University of Kansas.

Richard Van Horn, M.S.

Senior Web Application Developer

Richard is an engineer at heart and always enjoys learning and applying new technologies.

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Richard Van Horn, as part of the software development team, has worked closely with researchers to implement and maintain various projects, by integrating course content into web applications, and creating functionality as needed by projects. He is experienced in web application design, development, and testing, and he has contributed to multiple mentoring related projects at iRT. He has a M.S. in Information Technology with an emphasis in software development and management from Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley.

He has a M.S. in Information Technology with an emphasis in software development and management from Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley.

Kim Gosnell

Art Director

Kim's diverse skills include graphic design, e-learning design and development, animation, video production, as well as cartoon and technical illustration.

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Kim Gosnell’s professional experience spans more than 10 years in creative fields.  At iRT, she has led the graphic design, multimedia production and development of multiple online training courses and print-based projects, creating components intended for use in various youth mentoring programs that focus on successful mentoring relationships and outcomes. These projects include the design, development and implementation of many e-learning modules designed for both self-paced and instructor-led training programs, as well as print-based materials such as teacher manuals, student workbooks, logos, brochures, and marketing materials.

Kim continues to work on updates for Mentoring Central and the web-based training courses created for it, as well as derivatives of these lessons which are adapted to specific mentoring programs and/or environments (i.e.; school-based mentoring, urban programs).

Yontii Wheeler

Research Assistant - Public Health Intern

Yontii's interest in youth mentoring stemmed from her 7-year career as an elementary educator and devotion to working towards a future where all students receive an equitable education.

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Yontii is a graduate student at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is anticipated to receive a Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights in 2022. Her previous work as an educator in Charlotte, NC was predominantly as a math specialist with additional training in social-emotional and personalized learning. She uses her public health and education background to assist with developing the STEM mentoring training program. She is passionate about health equity and uses this perspective when assisting with the development of mentor trainings.

We'd love to hear from you.


Phone: 919 493 7700

Fax: 919 493 7720

Address: 5316 Highgate Drive, Suite 125
Durham, NC 27713-6629