innovation Research & Training Awarded OJJDP Grant to Study the Effects of Mentoring At-Risk Youth

Durham, NC, May 2, 2014—innovation Research & Training (iRT)–a behavioral sciences research company, has been awarded nearly $500,000 to study factors associated with successful outcomes from mentoring of at-risk youth.

Funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), the grant will allow iRT researchers to examine two main issues.  iRT scientists will examine whether the quality of mentees’ relationships with parents and peers have an impact on their ability to establish strong relationships with mentors.  In addition, the researchers will explore how mentor training and support affect youth outcomes including aggression and delinquency. The research will focus on exploring these issues in three high-risk populations of mentored youth including children of incarcerated parents, youth in foster care, and youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

“This project is significant because of its tremendous potential to increase the chances of success for mentoring of countless at-risk kids,” said Dr. Kathryn Stump, research scientist. “Our ultimate goal is to provide all youth with every opportunity to achieve positive outcomes and to provide mentoring programs with the tools needed to effectively achieve that goal.”

The research will evaluate the effects of training and support services available to volunteers on match quality and youth outcomes.  By incorporating evidence-based practices into mentoring program practices, researchers hope to help mentoring programs optimize their mentee selection and mentor training opportunities.  “If we can better understand the program practices of mentoring organizations that are associated with youth outcomes, we can develop training, tools, and resources to help mentoring programs operate more effectively even with high risk populations of youth,” said Dr. Janis Kupersmidt, principal investigator on the grant.

iRT scientists expect to use study results to result in two sets of practical resources for the field.  First, they plan to create a tool to assist programs in selecting youth who may optimally benefit from having a mentor.  In addition, they will make research-based recommendations on training and support practices that are associated with high quality mentoring matches.

“Mentoring relationships can vary considerably in their effectiveness, depending on the characteristics of youth as well as mentors,” said Stump.  “Understanding the variation within mentoring programs is critically important for effectively utilizing this important intervention service within the array of programs available for helping children who are at-risk or who are already involved in the juvenile justice system. Mentoring programs that adhere to best practices can make a difference to at-risk youth.”

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About innovation Research & Training
innovation Research & Training (iRT) is a behavioral sciences research company committed to identifying and solving significant real-world problems facing children, families, communities, and organizations. By using evidence-based and culturally sensitive methods, iRT researchers investigate, develop and evaluate behavioral, educational, psychological, social, and community assessment, prevention and treatment programs and services. Its staff includes experts in basic and applied research in a wide variety of areas, including substance abuse prevention and treatment, youth mentoring, social and emotional development, mindfulness education, media literacy education, pregnancy prevention and sexual health, child and adolescent mental health, adult and juvenile justice programs, drug courts, drugged driving, tobacco use and underage drinking.  For more information about iRT, visit

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