2021 Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring

The 13th annual and 2nd virtual Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring will focus on the theme of mentoring and mental health, exploring how mentoring supports the mental health of young people and discussing strategies for effectively mentoring youth with mental health needs. Online sessions will feature leading scholars and will include time for participants to critically discuss implications for program policies and practices. The 2021 Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring is presented by the Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research at Portland State University, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, and MENTOR Canada.


The Summer Institute provides a distinctive educational opportunity for experienced mentoring professionals to learn about the latest developments in theory and research on youth mentoring, engage in discussions with peers, and think creatively about program innovation. To maintain a seminar-style approach in a virtual environment, one online session will be presented each day of the week (via Zoom). Each session will be 2 hours in length and will include a research presentation and time for discussion. In addition, virtual social events will be offered to allow further conversations with colleagues.


To encourage interactive discussions among participants, the Summer Institute seminar is limited to 30 participants. Ideal participants have several years of experience in the field of youth development, hold leadership positions in their programs, and are seeking an advanced level of professional development (e.g., CEO’s, program directors).


Prospective participants complete a short application and provide a current resume. Space is limited. Participants are expected to attend the entire seminar. Information on how to apply is available on our application page

Applications are due by June 11, 2021


Registration for the summer institute is $150. Limited scholarship support is available.

2021 Dates

Summer Institute sessions will be offered July 19-23, 2021 (10am-12pm PDT/1-3pm EDT, with additional orientation at 9 PDT/12 EDT on July 19 and closing session at 12 PDT/3 EDT on July 23).


Institute Director 

Thomas Keller, Ph.D., is the Duncan and Cindy Campbell Professor for Children, Youth, and Families with an Emphasis on Mentoring and Director of the PSU Center for Interdisciplinary Mentoring Research. Professor Keller studies the development of mentoring relationships and initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of youth mentoring programs. He also directs a major NIH-funded research training program for undergraduates from backgrounds historically underrepresented in biomedical sciences.

2021 Presenters 

Claire Crooks, Ph.D., is Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for School Mental Health at Western University in Ontario, Canada. Dr. Crooks has conducted research on the Fourth R, an evidence-based healthy relationships and violence prevention program designed for universal implementation in schools, and works with the Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network to promote capacity and accessibility for such programs. Dr. Crooks has collaborated with community partners to develop and evaluate culturally-relevant school-based mentoring programs for Indigenous youth to support mental well-being and identity development.

David DuBois, Ph.D., is Professor of Community Health Sciences and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Public Health at University of Illinois Chicago. Dr. DuBois, who also chairs the Research Board of the National Mentoring Resource Center, has published numerous influential studies on youth mentoring and has co-edited both editions of the Handbook of Youth Mentoring. His work includes collaborative research with Great Life Mentoring, a program specifically designed for youth experiencing mental health conditions.

Elizabeth Higley, is the Founder and Director of Great Life Mentoring, a research-based mental health intervention that enriches the lives of children from low-resource families receiving mental healthcare. Great Life Mentoring collaborates extensively with researchers to evaluate its effectiveness.

Noelle Hurd, Ph.D., is the Scully Family Discovery Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Virginia. Dr. Hurd’s research focuses on the role of intergenerational relationships in supporting the healthy development of marginalized adolescents. Dr. Hurd has conducted numerous investigations of connections between natural mentoring relationships and the mental health, well-being, and academic success of African American youth. She has written about the need to center a social justice perspective in research and practice pertaining to youth mentoring relationships. Along with her research team, she has developed an intervention to foster the development of natural mentoring relationships between youth who lack them and adults in their everyday lives.

Martha McCormack, is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Work at Portland State University. Drawing on a 25-year career in publicly-funded mental health services for children and families, she has investigated the perceptions of parents on mentoring for youth with mental health needs. As an embedded doctoral researcher with a BBBS chapter, she conducted a study of parents of youth with mental health challenges who were in long-lasting matches. Her dissertation focuses on parent stress in relation to the parent-mentor working alliance in matches involving youth with mental health challenges.

Michelle Munson, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. Dr. Munson has expertise on mental health services and the development and testing of interventions for adolescents and young adults with serious mental health conditions. She is interested in approaches, such as mentoring, that promote supportive social relationships and encourage service utilization. Dr. Munson authored the NMRC report entitled Mentoring for Youth with Mental Health Challenges.

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