January 19, 2024, Durham, NC – iRT Research Scientists Drs. Janis Kupersmidt and Katie Stump will present at the 2024 meeting of the annual National Mentoring Summit in Washington, DC, this month. Each year, MENTOR hosts mentoring professionals and advocates from across the nation to take part in expert-led presentations and networking opportunities to share mentoring best practices and drive positive change for young people. The next National Mentoring Summit will be held January 24-26, 2024.

Mentoring experts for Mentoring Central, a division of iRT, have been attendees, presenters, and exhibitors at the Mentoring Summit every year since the first annual meeting. Continuing our support for this important event, Kupersmidt and Stump will hold live, interactive workshops at the next Summit to share some of Mentoring Central’s research and expertise in the field of mentoring.

Dr. Kupersmidt will lead a session entitled Tips for Preparing Mentors and Staff to Support Youth Impacted by Misuse of Opioids and Other Drugs with Kerri Feider, Director of Mentoring Initiatives at Leadership Foundations, and Maggie Middleton, Program Director for the Lexington Leadership Foundation and Amachi Lexington Organization. During this workshop, which will be held on January 25, 2024 from 9:25 A.M. to 10:55 A.M. EST, Kupersmidt, Feider, and Middleton will discuss the need for additional training for mentors who are serving youth impacted by substance misuse. Youth who misuse substances are at risk for a variety of negative health, behavioral, and academic outcomes, including bullying, poor grades, and risky sexual behaviors. The number of youth misusing substances and/or living with a parent who has misused alcohol or drugs within the past year continues to grow at an alarming rate. Providing youth with opportunities to build impactful relationships through mentoring may be an effective approach to preventing substance use in this vulnerable population of youth.

Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to discuss how mentoring can be a protective factor for unique populations of youth, discover how mentors and mentoring programs can be prepared to serve youth affected by substance misuse, and learn tips for creating research-practitioner partnerships for new program innovations. Kupersmidt, Feider, and Middleton will share findings from work they have completed together through a multi-year partnership examining the needs of mentoring programs serving opioid-affected youth. The team will discuss their experience with the development and implementation of Substance of Change, a new, web-based, interactive training course for mentors and staff to prepare them to serve youth impacted by substance misuse. Session attendees will be able to brainstorm and discuss directions for future research related to the impact of mentoring on substance misuse.

Dr. Stump will lead an interactive workshop entitled Creating Cultural Competency Training Using a Design-Thinking Approach: A STEM Mentoring Case Study on January 25, 2024 from 2:15 P.M. to 3:45 P.M. EST to discuss the development of mentor training resources that both emphasize the importance of relationship development and prepare mentors to support the unique needs, goals, and interests of mentees who are interested in STEM education and careers. As the number of youth pursuing education or careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) dwindles, there is a growing need for research on the effectiveness of STEM mentoring on the recruitment and retention of youth in STEM. In order to foster mentee engagement in STEM subjects and support youth who are underrepresented in STEM, mentors who are participating in STEM mentoring programs should complete cultural competency training and learn the importance of building a close, impactful relationship with their mentees to support their goals.

During this presentation, Stump, alongside Mentoring Central Research Scientist Dr. Rebecca Stelter and Research Specialist Yontii Wheeler, will discuss the recent development and evaluation of a new, interactive training for STEM mentors, which prepares new volunteers to be effective mentors and support mentees who may be underrepresented in STEM using a design thinking approach. Session attendees will have the opportunity to participate in activities and small-group discussions to explore the importance of and challenges to implementing traditional cultural competency training in mentoring programs. Attendees will be able to ask questions and reflect on ways to apply recent findings from STEM mentor and cultural competency training research to their program practices.

If you are planning to attend the Summit, be sure to introduce yourself to one of our team members to chat or discuss your mentoring program’s needs!