Innovation in Collaboration: The Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring as a university-community partnership

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Kevin R. Jones
Thomas E. Keller
Marc Wheeler


The Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring (SIYM) at Portland State University is an intensive week-long seminar designed to offer a highly interactive educational opportunity for experienced professionals and leading researchers in the field of youth mentoring. The current study explores the extent to which SIYM represents an example of a successful university-community partnership and identifies ways in which SIYM innovates on established partnership models. Using grounded theory methods and typological analysis, the researchers analysed questionnaire responses from SIYM participants and research fellows to compare key characteristics of SIYM with the elements of effective partnerships described in the literature. Findings suggest that SIYM reflects many essential partnership qualities, including the presence of a shared vision; strong, mutually beneficial relationships; and a partnering process that includes communication and work for positive change. SIYM also introduces several innovations in format and structure that could inform the improvement or development of effective partnership efforts across disciplines. Implications for service providers, researchers and other stakeholders are discussed.

communication, collaboration, mutually beneficial relationships, innovation

Article Details

Research articles (Refereed)
Author Biographies

Kevin R. Jones, Portland State University

Kevin Jones is a doctoral research fellow and doctoral student in Social Work and Social Research at Portland State University.

Thomas E. Keller, Portland State University

Thomas E. Keller 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.

Marc Wheeler, Portland State University

Marc Wheeler is an Adjunct Research Associate at Portland State University, Regional Research Institute for Human Services. He worked for eight years as an executive at a Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in Alaska and was a participant at the 2007 Summer Institute on Youth Mentoring.