What's New @ iMentor

Keep up on the latest imentor news

Our blog features posts on new program developments, profiles of our mentor-mentee pairs and news from the mentoring and youth-development fields. Check back often to see what we've been up to or sign up to receive email updates.

Calling Future MENtors!

Posted on August 13, 2014 - 5:08pm

Next month, a group of new students will start the school year and, soon after, meet their mentors for the first time. In order to match all of the students in our program with a compassionate mentor, we need to recruit 700 men.

This year, six out of 10 iMentor students will be male, but only four of 10 mentor applicants will be men. Help us make sure that all of the boys in our program get a mentor this fall by signing up today or nominating someone you know would make a great mentor.

Mentors make a difference, but you don't have to take our word for it. Check out this audio slideshow to hear iMentor student Danny read the candid letter he wrote to his mentor, Joe, before heading to college.

Help make college possible for one amazing student.

First Lady Michelle Obama Selects iMentor Student for Reach Higher Initiative

Posted on July 11, 2014 - 11:39am

iMentor student Anthony Mendez was one of 10 students handpicked by First Lady Michelle Obama to join a roundtable discussion on Tuesday about overcoming obstacles to remain on the path to college. With his mentor Jack Roberts by his side, Anthony traveled to the White House. Below is a recap of his trip in his own words:

Connecting with those nine other kids, who had totally different backgrounds and faced different hardships and obstacles, made me feel like I had known them my entire life. I really felt connected and felt like I had done so much more than just visit the White House. I created a family with a group of amazing kids who have accomplished what many thought we wouldn’t.

They made me realize that when you open up and let yourself be vulnerable, it doesn’t mean that you’re weak, but human. I learned that President Obama and the First Lady have faced their own demons, but pushed passed those barriers without needing anybody’s approval.

Everybody at the table with the First Lady faced their struggles in unique ways, but what we all had in common was that we know we can’t be successful without somebody who believes in you. That’s who Jack is for me. That’s what my family is for me.

I’ll never forget Darius, who was one of the kids at the table from the South Side of Chicago. He looked completely different from me and speaks in a whole other accent, but he had a similar experience as I did. I got to see that no matter where you come from, you will always be a product of your environment, but it takes a strong mindset to see and realize that even if society doesn’t believe in you, you have control over your life. Only you can take steps toward reaching your higher purpose.

By surrounding ourselves with people who want us to do better, we can all be destined for greatness. Society does not define us; we define us. And if we accept change, take risks, and allow ourselves to open up to others, amazing things will happen, like meeting the First Lady. Mrs. Obama helped me realize that we should all be proud of our past and not hide it, because our stories are powerful and can inspire a generation to be great and do better. 

This whole experience is something nobody can take away from me. All of us will remember this day, and remember having the First Lady know our names and talk to us as if she had known us forever. She is such an amazing woman. I’ll never forget her calling me “my Anthony” and giving me a hug before telling me that it was a privilege to hear my story.

Plus, I saved my name tag.

Click here to see the full photo gallery.

The 2014 iMentor Extravaganza

Posted on June 19, 2014 - 5:06pm

A record 900 mentors and mentees joined us for the 2014 iMentor Extravaganza in Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza! 

We were thrilled to see such a big crowd there to celebrate the academic and personal successes our mentees have achieved with the help of their mentors.

This annual event kicked off with face-painting, a photo booth, catered lunch from Panera Bread, and a DJ playing popular tunes.

See you next year! Click here to view more photos from this year's event.

iMentor's 2014 Spring Benefit Produces Record Turnout

Posted on June 13, 2014 - 5:34pm

Last night, 500 guests attended iMentor's 2014 Spring Benefit, the largest turnout ever for this yearly fundraiser!

Held at the hip Bowery Hotel in Manhattan, the Spring Benefit celebrates the power of mentoring to improve college outcomes for students from low-income communities. Mentors, friends, and advocates came together for an evening of fun in support of a good cause.

Sponsored by Sungard, Nielsen, Egon Zehnder, and Bloomingdales, the event featured signature cocktails by Hendrick's Gin, Glenfiddich, and Reyka Vodka. Brooklyn Brewery provided craft beer, and delicious red and white wines were stocked by Wines of Argentina.

Guests were also treated to DJ entertainment by Vikas Sapra; a lively silent auction; and tasty treats from Champignon, Veri Chic Cakes, Lucy's Cantina Royal, and Thomas Preti Events.

“All evening, I was surrounded by ambitious and lively people who were excited to celebrate iMentor’s purpose,” said Renu Grover, a member of iMentor’s Young Executive Board and the Spring Benefit Host Committee. “Together we made an unforgettable memory of an evening I wish lasted forever.”

iMentor CEO Mike O’Brien capped off the night with a special appeal to guests, asking for their help in recruiting more volunteer mentors before the start of the school year. To match all the students in our partner schools by September, iMentor needs to recruit 1,200 new mentors, including 900 men. Click here to become a mentor.

"It is always so exciting to see so many proud mentors bringing their friends and talking up the mentoring experience," said Amanda D'Avria, iMentor's director of volunteers. "We hope that all of the non-mentors in attendance become mentors for us this year—especially the gentlemen!" Click here to see our full gallery.

Click here to see photos from the Bosco booth.

Guidance From Citi Mentor Helps Mentee Get Accepted into 1st Choice School

Posted on June 10, 2014 - 10:44am
Eric Berger, a Senior Vice President in Human Resources at Citigroup, and his mentee, Tyler.

For Tyler, a quiet senior at Juan Morel Campos Secondary School in Brooklyn, opening up to new people doesn’t come naturally. That’s why his mentor Eric Berger finds iMentor’s program, which facilitates email communication through a custom platform, so valuable.

“Tyler is an introvert, but he’s very expressive, thoughtful, and self-reflective via email,” Eric explains. “He opens up quite a bit due to the online structure of the program, and iMentor’s program requires mentors to open up as well.”

Eric, a Senior Vice President in Human Resources at Citigroup, was matched with Tyler in October 2012 in iMentor’s College Transition program. Over the past 18 months, the pair has progressed from celebrating shared interests (they both have a penchant for music and the arts) to establishing levels of trust, enthusiasm, and commitment, which are key to a successful mentoring relationship.

Eric is one of about 100 volunteer mentors from Citi, which last week announced a $1 million investment in iMentor through the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, a three-year, $50 million commitment to connect 100,000 low-income youth in the United States to economic opportunity through the development of workplace skills and leadership experience. As part of the grant award, Citi has pledged to substantially increase its number of employee mentors over the next two years.

Over the course of their mentoring relationships, iMentor pairs engage in a robust program model that includes financial literacy events and college and career exploration programs. Those were particularly relevant to Tyler, who knew he wanted to go to college but didn’t know how to get there—especially how to pay for it. Thankfully, Eric was there to guide him.

With Eric’s support and know-how, Tyler was able to navigate financial aid options, complete the FAFSA application, and create a plan for applying to his first job on campus. They met often to perfect Tyler’s resume and to rehearse mock interview questions.

Tyler, who is the youngest of five, will be the first in his family to go to college and is planning to enroll this fall at St. John’s University—with a generous scholarship from the university in hand. “Tyler sees college as an investment in himself,” Eric says, “and I couldn’t agree more.”

Eric attributes their success not just to the weekly emails, monthly in-person events, and college success curriculum but to the high-touch, personalized support that iMentor staff provides to each of its pairs.

“I’ve volunteered with a number of organizations in the past,” Eric said, “and I’ve never been more supported as a volunteer than I am with iMentor. I had all the support to pick up Tyler mid-stream [in his high school career] and really hit the ground running."

iMentor's Unveils New Shareables Page

Posted on May 30, 2014 - 3:17pm

This week, iMentor launched our visually dynamic Shareables page. This new feature hosts some of our favorite share-worthy content in one easy-to-navigate place.

And we’ve made it simple to post videos, infographics, and images to the social media network of your choice. Here’s how:

Choose the item you want to share
• Select the appropriate social media icon
• Then click post

Click here to begin sharing content on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and then encourage your friends to apply to be a mentor today!

Workplace Fun at iMentor

Posted on May 9, 2014 - 2:39pm

It’s 4:15 p.m., and everyone begins to make their way to the gong. Yep, we have one. It is a simple but powerful way we celebrate our successes—big and small.

Whether we’re welcoming a new hire or acknowledging the hard work and achievements of our staff, convening in Gongtown is how we come together here at iMentor.

We value moments like these. So much that we’ve created “Team Fun,” a group of staff members from across departments who develop opportunities to engage the team and drive our culture.

At iMentor, we strive to connect our organizational values of excellence, joy, educational opportunity, power of relationships, human potential, and collaboration to our day-to-day work. That goes for everyone—from our interns to senior leaders.

Every year, we continue annual traditions, such as our Halloween Showdown, Thanksgiving Potluck, and Holiday Talent Show, as well as introduce a few new ones. Some of the newer ones we’ve added to our roster are:

  • Bring Your Kids to Work Day. Because we’re all about developing professional networks early.
  • Dip Day. Because nothing embodies the power of relationships like the relationship between dips and chips.
  • Day of Service. A chance for us to serve the communities that are still in need after Hurricane Sandy.
  • “May” You Be Well Month. A series of health and wellness events, including a smoothie break session, yoga class, and a nutrition workshop.

As our organization expands, we hope to continue growing our culture by creating and sustaining organizational traditions, making space within iMentor’s ambitious, results-oriented work environment for de-stressing, while encouraging informal community building. Because what’s work without a little bit of fun?

Think you have a tradition we need to hear about? Want to see the gong for yourself? Ready to join the team? Take a look at our career opportunities here.

iConnect Talk Explores the Power of Crowdfunding

Posted on April 21, 2014 - 10:59am

Google served as the host of our latest iConnect event, Sponsored Volunteerism, a dynamic discussion with Charles Best, CEO of Donorschoose.org, and Robert Wolfe, cofounder and CEO of Crowdrise.com.

More than 200 mentors and supporters filled a state-of-the-art auditorium at Google’s hip New York City headquarters to hear Best and Wolfe discuss how crowdfunding and grassroots fundraising are changing the nature of philanthropy. iMentor CEO Mike O’Brien moderated the talk.

“People, especially young people, want to support causes they believe in,” said Wolfe, who has been recognized as an innovator in social commerce, crowdsourcing, and creative marketing by The New York Times, Advertising Age, and Entrepreneur. “And they want to tell their communities about the work they’re doing in a fun way.”

“When it comes to crowdfunding, what you're supporting are creations conceived of by people on the frontlines,” added Best, whose nonprofit was named one of the 50 Most Innovated Companies of the World by Fast Company. “This is still a new concept, but in a few years we’re hoping this is how fundraising will be done.”

7 Things I've Learned as a Mentor

Quinton Mudd Posted on April 14, 2014 - 2:46pm
Quinton, left, with his mentee, Ismael.

National Volunteer Month is a time to give back, and as a volunteer, I figured the best way for me to do that is to recruit even more mentors. By sharing the seven things I've learned since being matched with Ismael, I hope you'll be inspired to nominate someone who has what it takes to mentor a deserving student:

1. We have more to offer than we realize. As I spent time with Ismael, I began to notice that I could help him simply by talking about my own experiences, failures, and successes. I didn’t need to be Superman. I didn’t need to have all the answers. I just needed to listen.

2. His life is his. There are times when Ismael focuses on things I don't think are important. I have to remember that he is 12 years younger than me, which means I can’t expect him to think like an adult. He will undoubtedly make mistakes, but with every mistake, he has an opportunity to learn.

3. Those we mentor can mentor us. I’ve learned a lot about myself from Ismael during our three-year correspondence. I often marvel at his work ethic and maturity. He inspires me to be a better man.

4. Quality is better than quantity. I’ve seen how far a few simple words of encouragement can go. How we talk to young people changes the way they think about themselves. Once their thinking changes, their behavior follows.

5. Educate, don’t train. Training someone is simply expecting them to follow the rules. Educating them means encouraging them to think independently and providing them with the tools to think critically. When that happens, you empower a kid for a lifetime.

6. Mentoring can change the world. Young people with mentors have better attendance, higher self-esteem, and a greater chance of going to college. Imagine how we can shape the world if every kid is matched with a mentor who nurtures and believes in them.

7. The future is now. There’s no better time to build our community of volunteers. iMentor will enroll 3,000 more students this fall. Each one of them needs a mentor like you.

I hope you'll join me in expanding iMentor's network. Nominate someone today to be a mentor by clicking here and sending them an eCard.

Happy National Volunteer Month!

Posted on April 7, 2014 - 3:32pm

It’s National Volunteer Month! To celebrate, iMentor is honoring the amazing men and women who volunteer with our program, while simultaneously kicking off our biggest mentor recruitment effort to date.

Incredible things happen when we connect iMentor students with compassionate mentors—worlds expand, minds broaden, obstacles are overcome. If you know a friend, family member, or coworker who would make a great mentor, nominate him or her by sending a message through one of our eCards.

It’s simple. Click here, choose a card, and email someone who has what it takes to empower a young person to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions. This year, we’re looking to expand mentoring to thousands more young people by broadening our network of New York City volunteers.

We’ve already been blown away by the level of commitment from our mentors. And throughout the month of April, we’ll be spotlighting their dedication on our blog, Twitter feed, and Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Stay tuned, and join us by helping us spread the word!

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