Search Google Appliance

Our Events

Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring

Portland State University and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership are proud to present the Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring, to be held August 1-4, 2016 at PSU. The Summer Institute offers a truly distinctive educational opportunity for experienced mentoring professionals. Participants attend an intensive week-long seminar presenting the latest developments in theory and research on youth mentoring. Each session is led by a prominent, internationally recognized research fellow. The aim is a series of highly interactive discussions that provide an in-depth view of the research and examine its implications for program policies and practices. Sessions include time for participants to think critically and creatively about their own program issues and explore opportunities for innovation. A fundamental premise of the institute is that a sustained dialogue between experienced professionals and researchers stimulates research with relevance to the field and enhances its translation to practical application. As a general theme, the 2016 Summer Institute will focus on the ending of mentoring relationships, particularly early match closures. Attention will be given to how programs manage both planned and unplanned closures.   

Research fellows are selected for their expertise and influence in the field of mentoring. Fellows give presentations and contribute their insights to the discussions throughout the week. The Director of the Summer Institute is Thomas Keller, the Duncan and Cindy Campbell Professor for Children, Youth, and Families with an Emphasis on Mentoring at Portland State University. Research fellows for 2016 are Antoinette Basualdo-Delmonico of Boston University, Michael Karcher of the University of Texas—San Antonio, Elizabeth Raposa of College of William and Mary, and Renee Spencer of Boston University. In addition, the Institute will feature several guest speakers.


 To encourage an active exchange among professional peers and with researchers, the Summer Institute seminar is limited to 25 participants. Ideal participants have several years of experience in the field of youth development and are seeking an advanced level of professional development. They are experienced professionals who hold positions enabling them to influence the training and supervision of staff, the development of program models, and the implementation of service delivery changes based on the latest advances in the field (e.g., CEO’s, program directors). 

>>Find out more about the Summer Insititute


Summer Symposia on Mentoring Research

Research symposia feature distinguished researchers who give short, substantive talks highlighting their most important and intriguing findings. It will be a fast-paced, stimulating presentation of thought-provoking topics and trends in youth mentoring. 

Sponsors We gratefully acknowledge support from Oregon Community Foundation

Past Speakers

Thomas Keller, Ph.D., is the Duncan and Cindy Campbell Professor for Children, Youth, and Families with an Emphasis on Mentoring in the School of Social Work at Portland State University. He is also Director of the PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research. Professor Keller studies the development and influence of formal mentoring relationships as well as initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of mentoring programs. Prior to earning his Ph.D., he worked for several years with a Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate in Seattle as a caseworker, supervisor, and program director.

Timothy Cavell, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at the University of Arkansas. His research focuses on mentoring children who are aggressive or bullied and thus at risk for later delinquency, substance abuse, or psychopathology. Professor Cavell’s work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Hogg Foundation, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada. In addition to numerous academic articles and chapters on mentoring, Professor Cavell is the author of Working with Parents of Aggressive Children: A Practitioner’s Guide, published by the American Psychological Association.

Carla Herrera, Ph.D., is an independent consultant who was formerly a Senior Research Fellow with Public/Private Ventures. Dr. Herrera was the Principal Investigator on a major randomized trial of Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring programs. She also directed the recently completed multi-site study evaluating how match experiences and the effects of mentoring vary by the risk status of participating youth. The study was conducted in collaboration with Washington State Mentors.

Noelle Hurd, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the ways in which natural mentoring relationships promote resilience during adolescent development. She gives particular attention to the role of contextual factors in promoting or deterring the formation of intergenerational relationships and shaping the nature of interactions between marginalized youth and the adults in their communities.

Michael Karcher, Ph.D., Ed.D., is a Professor in the College of Education and Human Development at University of Texas at San Antonio. Professor Karcher is an expert on cross-age peer mentoring in schools. Currently he is co-Principal Investigator of an OJJDP study to better understand the role of advocacy in effectively mentoring delinquent youth. Previously, he conducted one of the first large-scale school-based mentoring studies, the Study of Mentoring in the Learning Environment (SMILE) funded by the William T. Grant Foundation. Professor Karcher is the author of numerous articles on mentoring in school settings, and he is co-editor of the landmark Handbook of Youth Mentoring.

Sarah Schwartz, Ph.D., has a degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Her research focuses on school- and community-based prevention programs for vulnerable youth. Her publications include studies investigating factors that influence the impact of school-based mentoring, including students' prior relationship histories, the duration of mentoring relationships and re-matching, and the timing of match meetings.

Lindsey Weiler, Ph.D., recently completed her degree in Applied Developmental Science at Colorado State University and is entering an NIH-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado. Her research has examined the Campus Corps therapeutic mentoring program, which she helped to establish and manage. In the Campus Corps program, undergraduates serve as mentors for youth vulnerable to school dropout, substance use/misuse, and delinquent behavior.

Sandra Christenson, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Professor Christenson and her colleagues developed the Check & Connect program, in which mentors systematically monitor performance indicators for students at risk of disengaging from school and provide individualized support in problem solving, skill building, and fostering positive family-school relationships. Check & Connect has been extensively evaluated, with over 15 years of research and a designation as an evidence-based intervention for school retention by the U.S. Department of Education.

Mark Eddy, Ph.D., is Director of Research for Partners for Our Children in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington. Previously, Dr. Eddy was a Senior Scientist with the Oregon Social Learning Center, where he conducted numerous studies of interventions for parents and children. Dr. Eddy is the Principal Investigator of an NIH-funded randomized trial of the Friends of the Children program, which provides paid professional mentors for youth at risk for problems from kindergarten through high school.

Gabriel Kuperminc, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Community Psychology at Georgia State University. Professor Professor Kuperminc studies the processes of resilience and positive youth development, and he has expertise on group mentoring as well as the role of mentoring within multi-component programs. Since 1999, he has evaluated the effectiveness of Cool Girls, Inc., a comprehensive youth development program that provides mentoring, tutoring, and life skills training to high risk, urban, preadolescent and early adolescent girls.

Davielle Lakind is a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of Illinois-Chicago working with the Research Group on Mental Health Services for Urban Children and Families in the Institute for Juvenile Research. Previously she worked as a professional mentor with Friends of the Children in New York City, and she has conducted research on the nature of the role of professional mentors. 

Laurie Powers, Ph.D, is Associate Dean for Research in the School of Social Work and Director of the Regional Research Institute for Human Services at Portland State University. Professor Powers conducts research on programs designed to enhance the self-determination of youth in foster care and youth with disabilities, including federally-funded randomized trials of the My Life intervention. In the My Life program, youth have individual relationships with adult coaches and peer mentors (former foster youth) who support the development of self-determination.

George Noblit, Ph.D., is Joseph R. Neikirk Distinguished Professor of Sociology of Education in the School of Education at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Professor Noblit has studied A+arts-enhanced schools, charter schools, and prison education for young offenders. He currently is investigating how the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program builds the social networks of students and enhances their social mobility through mentoring, advocacy, enrichment, and leadership training.

Sarah Schwartz is a doctoral candidate in Clinical Psychology at University of Massachusetts-Boston. She has published studies investigating factors that influence the impact of school-based mentoring, including the relationship histories of students and the duration of mentoring relationships. She is completing her dissertation on the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, in which youth select an adult they know to serve as a mentor during and after participation in a residential training program.

Special Topics in Mentoring Research

The PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research (CIMR) & Oregon Mentors held a special event and luncheon featuring mentoring research presentations by Kevin Jones, Jennifer Rainer and Mandy Elder, recipients of CIMR research scholarships. Presentations examined:

  • Long-term mentoring relationships from the youth perspective in the Friends of the Children Mentoring Program
  • Whether cross-race matching in mentoring programs can help youth and young adults and reduce societal prejudice
  • Peer mentoring as a means of supporting first-generation women college students in Oaxaca Mexico


Kevin Jones

Practicum Director in the Dorothy Day Social Work Program at the University of Portland 

A poetry-based interpretive phenomenological analysis of long-term mentoring relationships from the youth perspective

Little is known about the dynamics of long-term mentoring relationships between adults and youth, particularly those involving vulnerable children who face many challenges. Friends of the Children is an innovative mentoring program that utilizes paid mentors who are matched with children at the end of kindergarten and support them through high school graduation. Kevin’s research uses poetry-based interpretive phenomenological analysis to provide an in-depth exploration of these long-term mentoring relationships. The findings yield information about the nature of long-term mentoring relationships and reveal the meaning of these relationships from the youth perspective.

Kevin Jones is a recipient of a CIMR Doctoral Research Scholarship. He is the Practicum Director in the Dorothy Day Social Work Program at the University of Portland. He has also served as the CIMR Doctoral Research Fellow at Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest and as an adjunct instructor of social work courses at PSU and Pacific University. He is a poet with work published in local, regional and national literary journals including Pathos, Lilliput Review, and The Atlanta Review.

Jennifer Rainer, PSU Dept of Sociology

Can cross-race mentoring for youth and young adults help minority students and break down prejudice? 

 One of the most important issues in mentoring concerns the dynamics of race and ethnicity in mentoring relationships. Mentors often come from very different backgrounds than the young people they mentor. Studies on formal mentoring programs comparing benefits of same-race and cross-race matches have produced mixed findings. Research has rarely focused on how cross-race matches can promote racial empathy and understanding for both mentor and mentee. Jennifer’s research seeks to better understand the experiences of white adult mentors and African American and Latino mentees through personal narrative. The research aims to discover practices that improve inter-group relations and yield positive effects in mentoring programs for minority disconnected youth and young adults.

Jennifer Rainer is the recipient of a CIMR Master’s Research Scholarship. She became interested in mentoring while serving as a mentor in her ethnically diverse high school in Texas. As an undergraduate at Texas State University, her internship with the San Marcos Police Department led to a qualitative study of the life experiences of juvenile girls involved in the justice system. Her research interests focus on the factors influencing racial identity development and cross-racial empathy.

Mandy Elder, PSU School of Social Work

Women in Higher Education and Changes in Families: First Generation College Students in Oaxaca Mexico

 Mandy's research examines peer mentoring relationships of first-generation female college students from rural communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. Strict gender roles combined with a highly indigenous and impoverished population in Oaxaca create barriers to educational attainment and inhibit upward social mobility for women. In addition, higher education may be overtly discouraged by social pressures to stay within traditional roles as obedient daughters, wives, and mothers. Mandy has interviewed women  attending university in San Pablo Huixtepec to examine the consequences and effects seeking higher education has had on their family relationships. University personnel working with first-generation women students in Oaxaca can use the information gathered from this study to facilitate higher retention rates among first-generation women  at universities. Access to education is an important step in the process of gender equality in Mexico.

Mandy is the recipient of a CIMR Undergraduate Research Scholarship. Her interest in mentoring, supportive peer relationships, social justice, gender roles and first-generation college students springs from her own experiences as the first in her family to attend college. She comes from a rural community in Southern Oregon and is the recipient of a PSU President's Diversity Award for her work on promoting access to higher education.


Webinar: Mentoring Youth with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Fields

Collaborative Webinar Series
Featuring: CIMR Researchers Dr. Jo-Ann Sowers and Dr. Laurie Powers and  Scott Bellman of the Disability, Opportunity, Interworking, and Technology (DO-IT) program at the University of Washington
Sponsors: This free, national event is part of the collaborative webinar series from the National Mentoring Center, Oregon Mentors, the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota, Friends for Youth Mentoring Institute and MENTOR/the National Mentoring Partership.


Youth with disabilities, along with girls and racial/ethnic minorities are under-represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, and they are a largely untapped pool of potential talent to help fill the need that America has in these areas. CIMR researchers, Laurie Powers and Jo-Ann Sowers review research and literature about mentoring for youth with disabilities. Scott Bellman of the DO-IT program at the University of Washington joins the panel to share the many mentoring activities and resources they make available to the field.


Connections that Work: Pathways to Employment for Young People with Serious Mental Health Conditions

Presenters will share strategies, including mentoring, for promoting employment opportunities for young people with serious mental health conditions. Rise, Inc. and Career Visions will be featured as two examples of interventions supporting young people to access employment, and a young adult will share his experience seeking and maintaining employment.

Jo-Ann Sowers, Principal Investigator, Career Visions Project; Pathways to Positive Futures RTC, PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research, Portland, OR
Joan Distler, Director of Customized Employment, Rise, Inc.; Spring Lake Park, MN
Joe Marrone, Senior Program Manager for Public Policy, Institute for Community Inclusion; University of Mass-Boston
Sean Roy, Projects Director for Transition and Workforce Partnerships at PACER Center; Minneapolis, MN and the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth
Ryan Tepley, Owner, Pro Pet Sitting Services, LLC; St. Louis Park, MN


Cropping the Big Picture - Determining What the New Meta-Analysis Means for Your Mentoring Program (Webinar)


This year marks a landmark in the youth mentoring field with the publication of a new meta-analysis on the effectiveness of youth mentoring programs from leading mentoring researcher David Dubois and his colleagues. Hear from Dr. Dubois, and CIMR director Thomas Keller, discuss about this important research and what it means for program practice. The meta-analysis combines the results of over 70 mentoring program evaluations into one compelling picture of the overall impact of mentoring programs nationwide. Download the meta-analysis

This webinar is the first in a collaboration between the National Mentoring Center, Friends for Youth, Oregon Mentors, and the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota. Look for more joint webinars throughout 2012!


Workplace Mentoring: Benefits and Strategies for Success 

The PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research hosted Tammy Allen, Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida. Dr. Allen is the 2011 CIMR Fellow and an international expert on programs for mentoring employees in the workplace.

About the speaker: Tammy D. Allen is Professor of Psychology at the University of South Florida.  Tammy conducts research on mentoring relationships, careers, work-family issues, organizational citizenship behavior, and occupational health within organizations.  Her research has received best paper awards from the Academy of Management and the Society for Training and Development. She is a recipient of the Academy of Management Mentoring Legacy Award, which recognizes scholars whose work has been germinal to the study of mentoring. Tammy is co-author of Designing Workplace Mentoring Programs: An Evidence-based Approach and co-editor of The Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring:  A Multiple Perspectives Approach. She is associate editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology and past associate editor of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Tammy currently serves on the Executive Board of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  She is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association.