Innovation Research & Training Awarded NICHD Grant for Mentoring Central

Phase I grant to develop multimedia training program for mentees and caregivers
January 27, 2014

DURHAM, NC—Mentoring Central, a wholly-owned subsidiary of innovation Research & Training (iRT)–a behavioral sciences research company, today announced its receipt of a National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant to develop a training program for mentees and their caregivers.

iRT researchers will use the grant to develop a research-based, on-demand, multimedia training program for mentees and their parents or guardians. The training will be designed for use across a range of mobile and non-mobile platforms, including personal computers and tablet devices.

“We have found that mentoring relationships often end abruptly as a result of misunderstandings and miscommunication between the caregivers of the mentored child, the mentee, and the mentor,” said Dr. Rebecca Stelter, iRT research scientist and project co-principal investigator. “Unfortunately, early closures in mentoring relationships are not rare. We believe that caregiver engagement and support of the mentoring relationship can positively affect mentee’s satisfaction with the mentoring relationship and contribute to the length of the relationship,” she said.

The iRT scientists will research and develop a training program focused on increasing engagement and a supportive attitude toward the mentoring relationship and program. The goal is to develop training that provides mentees and their parents or other caregivers with the knowledge and skills needed to develop a strong relationship with the mentor and the mentoring program staff members. Once developed, the training program will be available to mentoring programs that serve youth in the United States and other countries.

The course will include a series of brief lessons with interactive activities to be completed by mentees and their caregivers. Navigation tracked by an administrative web application will allow mentoring program staff members to monitor completion of the training. User data will be captured to provide feedback for planning, matching, and match support.

The interactive course will feature highly engaging, videotaped scenarios for understanding roles, responsibilities, and problem-solving.  The vignettes will offer real-life scenarios involving mentors, mentees, family members, and program staff.

“This training will build upon our previous success developing comprehensive web-based training for pre- and early match mentors through our Mentoring Central website,” said Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, president, iRT and project co-principal investigator. “This mentee and caregiver training course will complement the knowledge and skills that are addressed in the mentor training courses. We are excited to provide mentoring programs with access to comprehensive, readily accessible research and evidence-based multimedia training,” she said.

About Mentoring Central

Mentoring Central, a wholly-owned subsidiary of innovation Training & Research (iRT)—a behavioral sciences research company committed to identifying and solving significant real-world problems facing children, families, communities, and organizations. Developed by iRT scientists and researchers, Mentoring Central provides online training products and services to support and strengthen mentoring relationships. For more information on Mentoring Central, visit To learn more about iRT, visit

Media Contact: Yvette Ruffin, APR
Director, Marketing and Communications
Innovative Research & Training