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Current Research Projects

Web-based Mentor Training (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Janis Kupersmidt, Innovation Research & Training, PI)

The purpose of this project is to develop a scientifically informed and practically applicable web-based training program for mentors that can be completed in the context of mentor training. Our plan is to create a series of interactive, multimedia web-based training modules covering key concepts and skills on topics such as common ethical dilemmas faced by mentors; establishing a positive personal relationship; helping young people develop life skills; interacting with children and families from a variety of cultural groups; and termination of the mentoring relationship.

Understanding school-based mentoring (Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and William T. Grant Foundation)

School-based mentoring (SBM) is the fastest growing form of mentoring in the U.S., serving hundreds of thousands of vulnerable students across the country (MENTOR, 2006). Although a rarity 15 years ago, nearly half of mentoring programs are now school-based Unfortunately, research has not kept pace with the expansion of SBM. This study will draw on data two large random evaluations of SBM, the richest available source of information on this approach to mentoring. In addition to detailed youth, volunteer, and match information (collected from youth, teachers and volunteers), the dataset contains extensive and largely untapped information on program characteristics (e.g., number of hours and timing of training, mentor-reported match support, meeting structure, parental involvement) as well as school and classroom information.

Adversity and Resilience: Effects of Hurricane Katrina on Vulnerable Populations (Christina Paxon, PI, Mary Waters and Jean Rhodes, Investigators, NICHD)

We are studying how a group of 1,000 low-income, community college students from New Orleans are coping with the effects of Hurricane Katrina. In particular, we are looking at how the resources and capacities of these individuals--broadly defined to include their mental and physical health, prior involvement with drugs and risky behaviors, social networks (including mentors), and economic resources--influence coping in the aftermath of the disaster. The study is making use of pre-hurricane data that have already been collected, combined with a fourth wave of quantitative and qualitative data and biomarker data are now being collected now.

Watch video about this project.

Understanding the Youth Initiated Mentoring Component of the National Guard Youth ChalleNGE Program
http://www.ngycp.org (Dare Mighty Things, Inc.)

The National Guard ChalleNGe is a comprehensive and innovative program that operates in 26 states and one territory annually serving approximately 9,000, 16- to 18-year-old dropout youth in a five-month, intensive, military academy-style residential program. Unlike any other youth development program. The Youth Initiated Mentoring (YIM) model of the National Guard Youth ChallenNGe Program (NGYCP) is an innovative approach to mentoring with potentially far-reaching implications for serving our nation’s youth. Rather than be assigned a mentor, youth are encouraged to recruit mentors who are then trained and supported by the National Guard. This secondary analysis of data from a large-scale evaluation of NGYCP will provide a more in-depth understanding of this vital component.

Understanding the role of gender in mentoring (Edna McConnell Clark Foundation)

Evaluations of volunteer mentoring programs provide ample evidence that mentoring relationships can positively influence adolescent developmental outcomes, including improvements in peer and parent relationships, academic achievement, and self-concept, as well as lower recidivism rates among juvenile delinquents and reductions in substance use. Few studies, however, have focused on the role of gender in shaping the course and effects of the relationships. Consequently, key questions regarding the relative importance of a gender-specific approach to mentor training, supervising, and programming remain unanswered. Through a series of studies in which we focus on gender in the context of single-sex and coed programs, we are seeking to offer a richly detailed understanding of how gender affects mentoring relationships, and provide the field with the necessary evidence and guidance to make appropriate program and administrative decisions where gender is concerned.


Jean E. Rhodes, Ph.D. Professor
Department of Psychology   |   University of Massachusetts, Boston
Office: (617) 287-6368   |   Fax: (617) 287-6336   |   Email: jean.rhodes@umb.edu