August 24, 2023, Durham, NC – iRT is proud to announce the release of a new, multimedia, interactive, web-based training course designed specifically for onboarding STEM mentors!

As the numbers of youth pursuing careers or higher education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) dwindles, there is a growing need for support for youth who may be interested in STEM subject areas and careers. STEM mentoring programs play an important role in inspiring youth to explore their interests in STEM, and mentors must learn the skills and knowledge needed to provide high quality support to mentees who are underrepresented in these fields and build the interest and engagement of their mentees in STEM. The new Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors course is designed to provide mentors with the essential skills needed to build and maintain an impactful relationship with a mentee in a STEM mentoring program, in an effort to encourage youth of diverse races, abilities, and backgrounds to continue seeking opportunities in STEM.

The entire training course may be completed in approximately 4.5 hours and can be completed at one’s own pace. The course is composed of 11 engaging lessons, including lessons on foundational mentoring skills and topics, such as understanding boundaries in a STEM mentoring relationship, roles that a STEM mentor should and should not play, expectations for STEM mentoring relationships, and tips for meeting a mentee for the first time. STEM mentoring activities are often fun and engaging, but it is essential that STEM mentors balance games and activities with meaningful conversation and connection, so that mentees can feel fully supported by their mentor, develop a sense of belonging in STEM, and understand the value and utility of STEM fields. The course’s content about vital core mentoring skills and topics has been specifically crafted to meet these unique needs and responsibilities of STEM mentors.

In addition to learning about foundational mentoring topics, mentors who take the Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors course will learn about barriers to recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in STEM and how to overcome these barriers, the continuum of cultural competency, microaggressions and how to deal with them, and prejudice and implicit bias and how to handle it. These lessons are designed to give mentors skills to better support subgroups of youth who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, including girls, youth with a disability, youth living in a low-income family, youth who are or will be first-generation college students, youth who are immigrants or refugees, and youth from a traditionally underrepresented ethnic or racial minority group.

A new and exciting feature of iRT’s learning management system (LMS), eTrove, is that mentoring program staff members will have the option to select which lessons to include in their volunteer mentors’ training to create their own customized course that is best suited for their program. In addition, mentoring programs can upload their own videos, animations, or documents to eTrove and insert them into their custom course. Examples of relevant content might be a program-specific mentor application form, mentor-mentee agreement form, welcome letter, or booklet of activity ideas or instructions. The standard course also includes a variety of supportive features designed to keep mentors engaged in the training, including animations and interactive activities, downloadable lists of tips for mentors, certificates of completion, and more.

If you’re looking to prepare your mentors to build their mentees’ engagement in STEM, try the new Building the Foundation for STEM Mentors course:*1panyyp*_ga*NjU2NzY2Mzk0LjE2Njc0ODExMzk.*_ga_128E0JKVJ8*MTY5MjcxNjQzOS4xNzcuMC4xNjkyNzE2NDM5LjYwLjAuMA.