UMass Boston and MENTOR Form Alliance Supporting Youth Mentoring Research

January 25, 2011

Office of Communications

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Chancellor J. Keith Motley today announced that the University of Massachusetts Boston will partner with MENTOR/ National Mentoring Partnership, to form the UMass Boston/Mentor Research Alliance, a first-of-its-kind institute that will support the advancement of youth mentoring efforts.

The UMass Boston/MENTOR Research Alliance aims to create an open and efficient exchange of evidence-based youth mentoring research among researchers, practitioners, and policy makers, with an ultimate goal of improving the lives of the nation’s underserved youth.

“MENTOR’s outstanding reputation as the premiere resource for practitioners in the field of mentoring and its strong channels of communication to policymakers and practitioners alike – paired with UMass Boston’s intellectual capital – will ensure that the mentoring field maximizes its potential to improve the lives of our nation’s underserved youth,” Chancellor Motley said.

“We have both been dedicated to positive youth development,” he added. “Together we will forge a powerful platform to bring the mentoring field to scale.”

UMass Boston Professor of Psychology Jean Rhodes, a globally recognized expert on youth mentoring, will serve as the Alliance’s first research director and hold the MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership Endowed Chair. Larry Wright, CEO of MENTOR, will operate as managing director and chair of the Alliance's board of trustees.

“With 15 million children waiting for an effective mentor in their lives, there is no time to waste. MENTOR is deeply grateful that UMass Boston is investing its resources to make the latest mentoring research readily available to all parties so we can work in concert to serve more young people in a timely way,” Wright said.

“Evidence-based research is critical to our mission to expand quality mentoring, and we are excited that the UMass Boston/Mentor Research Alliance will be right here in Massachusetts and serve as a hub for translating research around what works into practice so that our local mentoring programs and those around the nation can drive the greatest impact to the meet the needs of youth,” said David Shapiro, the President and CEO of the Mass Mentoring Partnership, which serves more than 170 organizations

Chancellor Motley made the initial announcement at the 2011 inaugural National Mentoring Summit, “Achieving Academic and Social Success: Supporting Youth through Mentoring,” which brought together leading mentoring organizations and researchers, as well as federal and state government and civic leaders, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The summit was attended by First Lady Michelle Obama, who led a keynote session where she announced a Corporate Mentoring Challenge. Also presenting at the summit were Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington, Librarian of Congress James Billington, and members of Congress.

Although countless university-based research centers exist, there has not been a center that has incorporated and operated as a joint entity with a nonprofit organization since its inception. This UMass Boston/MENTOR Research Alliance does just that, allowing for a dramatic acceleration of the exchange of research and practice.

“Practitioners in the field of youth mentoring have been frustrated by the inefficient channels of dissemination of research, and policy leaders often act in a vacuum, issuing RFP’s and introducing legislation that runs counter to research findings,” Professor Rhodes said. “Opportunities for funding in the mentoring space are ineffectively conceived and disseminated across multiple agencies and foundations, representing lost opportunities for vital collaborations, coordinated research, and improved practice.”

“The joint center will both hasten and strengthen the exchange of information in ways that ensure that ideas are properly interpreted and implemented and more youth receive the caring support of effective mentors.”

Professor Rhodes, a national leader in the field of mentoring, has published her findings in outlets ranging from scholarly journals to The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Her trade book, Stand by Me: The Risks and Rewards of Mentoring Today’s Youth, served to galvanize an emerging field. She has helped to establish the study of non-parent adult relationships as a serious academic subdiscipline.

About MENTOR
For more than 20 years, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership (MENTOR) has been the lead champion for youth mentoring in the United States. MENTOR helps children by providing a public voice, developing and delivering resources to mentoring programs nationwide and promoting quality for mentoring through standards, cutting-edge research and state of the art tools. MENTOR works closely with State Mentoring Partnerships and more than 5,000 mentoring programs and volunteer centers throughout the country, serving more than three million children in all 50 states.

About the University of Massachusetts Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve more than 15,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities.