February 7, 2023, Durham, NC – Youth with disabilities account for a significant portion of the mentees enrolled in mentoring programs across the United States. A national study conducted by MENTOR found that approximately 10 percent of youth served in mentoring programs nationally have a disability.1 However, many mentoring programs lack the resources needed to meet the unique needs of mentees with disabilities. Mentoring program staff must implement inclusive strategies in the training, policies, and design of their mentoring program to achieve positive outcomes for every mentee enrolled in the program.

iRT consulted with Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) and MENTOR in the development of the new Inclusive Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities Supplement to the fourth edition of Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring™, MENTOR’s renowned publication which outlines standards for creating and maintaining equitable, impactful mentoring programs. The new Supplement provides guidelines for mentoring program staff to use to assess their mentoring program’s existing practices and policies for inclusivity, as well as steps they can take to improve those practices or implement new training or services to better serve mentees with disabilities. Furthermore, the Supplement outlines ways to remove barriers that impact accessibility of programs for mentees, provide training to mentors about disability topics, design programs to address the specific needs of mentees with disabilities, and more. The Inclusive Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities Supplement was developed as a resource for any mentoring program to use what is committed to accessibility and inclusivity, whether the program exclusively serves youth with disabilities or all youth.

iRT President and Senior Research Scientist Janis Kupersmidt was proud to represent iRT on the Working Committee advising in the development of the Supplement. iRT contributed its mentoring expertise by attending planning meetings, reviewing and providing comments on recommended practices, and editing drafts of the Supplement. “As an organization, iRT is committed to assisting MENTOR in its mission to provide resources to mentoring programs that desire to be more inclusive of youth with a disability,” said Dr. Kupersmidt. “Our service to the field is consistent with our research activities on the impact of mentoring youth and young adults with a disability, as well as studying which program practices produce the most positive outcomes. I was honored to be included in this groundbreaking initiative.”

MENTOR and PYD staff showcased the Supplement in a webinar in December of 2022 which informed attendees of ways to better design and evaluate programs serving youth with a broad range of abilities and backgrounds. Following the webinar, the in-person launch of the Inclusive Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities Supplement was held at the 2023 National MENTOR Summit.

iRT continues to dedicate its expertise and research to developing resources for mentoring programs looking to provide more impactful experiences for mentees. If you are interested in taking your mentoring program to the next level, browse Mentoring Central’s 2023 catalog of resources designed to support effective mentoring programs.


1 Garringer, M. , McQuillin, S. , & McDaniel, H. (2017). Examining Youth Mentoring Services Across America: 
Findings from the 2016 National Mentoring Program Survey. MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership