iMentor Blog

Graduation Snapshots

Posted on July 13, 2012 - 9:41am

This spring, students at 8 of our partner high schools in New York City experienced the thrill of high school graduation—with their mentors in the audience to cheer them on. Hear reflections from some of our mentors and mentees about what it has meant to them to work toward this important milestone, and what they hope for the future of their relationships as the students transition to college.

We join all of our mentors in congratulating the iMentor students who are graduating this year and going on to college.

Do you want to help a student graduate high school college-ready and succeed in college? Sign up to become a mentor today.

Take the Mentor Pledge

Posted on July 11, 2012 - 4:52pm

I pledge to stand with youth in low-income communities as they achieve their college dreams.

Before the school year starts, our mentors and supporters are pledging to help more high school students from low-income communities graduate high school college-ready and succeed in college. But you don’t have to be a mentor to get involved. Anyone can join our community of support by taking the Mentor Pledge.

Want to get involved? Visit our Mentor Pledge campaign page to share the Pledge message with your friends on Facebook. With just one click, you can help spread awareness about the needs of our students and how mentoring can make a difference. We’re trying to get as many people as possible to take the pledge by September 1! The more people who take the pledge, the more who will be inspired to become mentors this school year!

The Mentor Pledge will help raise awareness about an urgent need facing students. On average, for every 100 students from low-income communities who start high school, only 61 will graduate, 33 will enroll in college, and 21 will earn a college degree. To help ensure more students have the individual support they need to get to college and succeed once they’re there, our mentors provide individualized support to students as they build college readiness skills and apply.

Show your support for our students and the work of our mentors by taking the Mentor Pledge now: http://www.imentor.org/mentor-pledge. You can help ensure that more students have the opportunity to discover their full potential and build bright futures. 

iMentor’s Program Model Brings College Readiness Support to Youth in the Midwest

Posted on July 5, 2012 - 12:06pm
College-bound mentee Maleni (left) and her mentor Leah (right).

Organizations across the country now utilize iMentor’s effective mentoring model through our iMentor Interactive Program. These organizations sign on to take advantage of iMentor’s successful curriculum, support methods, and best practices in order to provide the youth they serve with high-quality mentoring.

College Possible, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota, makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. The organization adopted our program in 2011 as part of their Idealistic Mentors Initiative, which is now supporting 100 mentor-mentee pairs at three high schools in Minnesota. Using our curriculum to enhance their college access model, College Possible matched Maleni Garcia, a high school senior at Columbia Heights High School, with Leah Schultz, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee. Since being linked with her mentor, Garcia submitted 15 college applications. Recently, she received an acceptance letter from Hamline University, her first choice school.

“It’s really nice that my mentor will be a resource through college,” Maleni said. “I can’t ask my parents questions about college because they didn’t go. I’m glad to be able to talk to someone who did.”

More than 30 organizations nationally are currently utilizing iMentor’s model to prepare youth for college. We are extremely pleased to hear about the successes students are achieving in communities nationwide through mentoring. Congratulations, Maleni!

Making a Difference in New York and Chicago: iMentor and Marsh & McLennan Companies

Posted on June 26, 2012 - 5:25pm

It’s only been a little over a year since iMentor began working with the global professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Companies, but the partnership has already had a big impact on iMentor and the students we serve. 

In New York City and Chicago, 52 Marsh & McLennan Companies employees volunteer as mentors to students in low-income communities. Each mentor works one-on-one with a high school student to develop college-readiness skills and navigate the college application process. Amit Loungani, a mentor from Mercer, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, is helping his mentee, Philip, a junior at KIPP NYC College Prep, focus on time management and organizing his priorities. Philip’s goals are to get his grades up, do well on the SATs, and finish his college applications; he is also very passionate about dance. Amit is helping Philip learn to balance his academic goals and his extracurricular interests. “He already recognizes where he stands and wants to improve, and I try to help him organize that. I can't take too much credit…but hearing it from me just propels it or sets it in motion,” Amit says. “Saying your goals out loud to someone can make them more attainable.”

 In addition to working with iMentor in New York City, Marsh & McLennan Companies wanted their Chicago employees to have an opportunity to volunteer in their community as well. As a result, the Company also sponsored our iMentor Interactive program at Muchin College Prep High School in Chicago, which is providing the school with its first mentoring program. And 20 of the Firm’s employees are volunteering as mentors to students at the school. “Marsh has a big presence in Chicago, and this is my way of getting involved in the city, and in the future of city,” said Jennifer Lester, a mentor in Chicago and an employee of Marsh, one of the Company’s other subsidiaries.

Marsh & McLennan Companies is a true thought partner for iMentor, helping to develop new ways to bring more mentors into schools through employee engagement. The Company’s commitment to the communities in which it works is spreading among its employees. Amit notes, "I don't think I would have found out about [iMentor] through my own means....That Mercer puts its name behind it shows that they've done their homework and it is worthwhile."

iMentor is excited to continue the partnership with Marsh & McLennan Companies. In January, the Company joined our 100 Mentor Pledge and committed to expanding their engagement with iMentor to include 100 of their employees as mentors. Next school year, Marsh & McLennan Companiesand iMentor are also expanding their partnership in Chicago. Current volunteers will continue to mentor students already in the program, as they become Muchin’s first class of graduating seniors. Additionally, Marsh & McLennan Companies will recruit 20 additional volunteers to mentor a new group of juniors. 

Sign up today to become a mentor at www.imentor.org/become-a-mentor.

Mentee Gets Into College and Thanks His Mentor

Posted on June 19, 2012 - 2:38pm

At this time of year, many of our mentees are mailing deposits to secure their place in college in the fall. With the support and guidance of their mentors, mentees wrote personal statements, took the SATs, and applied for financial aid. International High School at Lafayette senior Ali, who was accepted to three schools and will be attending Long Island University, feels particularly grateful to his mentor, Paul, for his extraordinary support. Here’s a snippet of one of their last e-mail exchanges this academic year:  

Dear Paul,

Thanks to you, I am capable of taking care of myself. I learned a lot from you. You have made me a better person than I was before. Looking at your experiences, I actually want to be like you, outgoing, maybe become a mentor in the future. You have taught me not only to take care of myself but also try to experience new things. If I don’t like something that I never tried, why not try it? I might like it. You have also taught me to be strong and to take responsibility for myself. I remember when you told me to work hard in order to get something because no one will do it for me. You also motivated me to do things that I was afraid of doing.

Dear Ali,

This was such a wonderful email to read. It really means a lot to me to hear you list all the great things you've accomplished this year and also how you have really taken control of your life. I had so much fun over this past year and I’m so glad that I was able to help motivate you for your senior year in high school. I am truly honored to hear you say you would want to be like me. Thanks for the kind words, my friend. You have taught me a ton throughout this experience as well. Looking forward to staying connected during your transition to college and throughout your college experience. Enjoy graduation and the last few weeks as a high school student!

iMentor congratulates Aliand all of our graduating seniors on their huge successes this yearand applauds Paul for being an exemplary mentor. We are proud to be able to pair students with strong, caring mentors each year who can support them on their journey to higher education.

iMentor and Morgan Stanley Announce a CGI America Commitment to Expand the Mentor Pledge

iMentor Posted on June 12, 2012 - 10:55am

Last week, iMentor CEO Mike O'Brien attended the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting in Chicago, along with hundreds of business, government, and nonprofit leaders from across the country. At the meeting, iMentor and Morgan Stanley announced a CGI Commitment to Action to expand the Mentor Pledge by doubling the number of Morgan Stanley employees who volunteer with iMentor.

iMentor launched the Mentor Pledge this January in partnership with 10 corporations to recruit 100 of their employees to be mentors for high school students in low-income communities throughout New York City. Morgan Stanley, one of iMentor’s longest-standing corporate supporters, will double its mentor pledge from 100 to 200 mentors as part of the company’s dedication to skills-based volunteering, which leverages the professional expertise and backgrounds of its employees to deliver high-impact results in the community.

iMentor created the Mentor Pledge with Accenture, Barclays Capital, Bloomberg LP, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Ernst & Young LLP, Goldman Sachs, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Morgan Stanley and UBS. These companies not only support iMentor with valuable volunteers but also provide a financial commitment to the Mentor Pledge program, which New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg highlighted in his 2012 State of the City address.

The commitment of these companies will allow iMentor to expand its programs to meet its goal of serving 2,400 students in New York City in 2013. The mentors will help students navigate the college application and financial aid processes and build key competencies linked to college success. iMentor provides expertise and assistance to its corporate partners through mentor recruitment and training efforts in collaboration with each of the 10 pledge companies.

“The visionary leadership of Morgan Stanley and the other companies in the Mentor Pledge is absolutely vital to expanding the work we do to support students from low-income communities on their path to college success,” said iMentor CEO Mike O’Brien. “We are excited to participate in CGI America and expand upon iMentor’s mission with a group of extraordinary leaders who are all working to connect youth with education and employment opportunities.” 

Said Joan Steinberg, Head of Community Affairs at Morgan Stanley: “We are proud to have helped iMentor get its start more than a decade ago. Then, as now, our employees have embraced the opportunity to share key skills with New York City students, positioning these young people for greater academic and professional success. We’re pleased to be deepening our relationship with iMentor, which is a past winner of the Morgan Stanley Strategy Challenge in recognition of their innovative technology-enabled mentoring.”

iMentor matches Mentor Pledge company employees with students from partner schools in one-to-one mentoring relationships that last up to four years. iMentor supports all mentor-mentee pairs as they work through iMentor’s college-readiness curriculum and also provides mentors with ongoing training, networking events, and coaching from iMentor staff.

At the CGI America Meeting, Mike also lead a discussion on how cross-sector partnerships can further mentoring across the country to help more students gain access to higher education and jobs.

iMentor’s Curriculum Sharpens Students' Study Skills Before Finals

Posted on May 28, 2012 - 5:44pm

What makes iMentor’s curriculum distinctive is its joint focus on not only supporting excellence in the classroom, but also addressing the social, personal, and emotional factors that are directly tied to college readiness. To this end, our partnerships with New York City schools enable us to design writing prompts and assignment sheets to structure mentor and mentee interactions that align with specific college-readiness goals.

At the “Study for Something” event on May 26, strategically timed to coincide with final exams, mentors guided 50 11th graders from the Secondary School for Law in taking a study skills assessment quiz and identifying areas to improve their test-taking preparation. Held in one of Baruch College’s conference spaces, the gathering provided many of these students with their first chance to visit a college campus. Some top iMentor tips to students included: remembering to use a planner to track upcoming test dates and deadlines, setting achievement intentions before completing assignments to maximize their personal return, and underlining key passages to aid reading comprehension rather than simply relying on memory.

This event is just one of a dynamic cluster that iMentor holds for its students at 15 partner schools each month, all of which aim to heighten academic curiosity and promote college planning. One recent event prompted iMentor high school sophomores to chat with their mentors about what makes them feel energized or concerned about the upcoming school year. Another asked high school seniors to work with their mentors on budget planning in order to sharpen their financial literacy skills before they head off to college and are tasked with managing money. 

Through this curriculum, our mentors are helping students build skills that will last a lifetime.

Mentors Go Above and Beyond to Support iMentor

iMentor Posted on April 25, 2012 - 10:57am

In February and March, mentors again took to the web to go above and beyond their role as volunteers by participating in our annual Online Donor Drive campaign. With the help of the Crowdrise.com, our amazing mentors went viral, creating personal fundraising pages with stories and photos about their mentees. Over the past few years, the Online Donor Drive has become a growing force in helping to raise funds and awareness to the iMentor program.   This year was no different, raising more than $60,000 from more than 800 donors in 33 states and from three countries! 

Mentors from every one of our 15 partner schools got involved by creating pages. Mentors at the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports and the Brooklyn Academy of Letters took top prizes for “Most Mentors Participating” and “Highest Mentor Participation” respectively.  Both schools will be acknowledged and rewarded at our upcoming iMentor Extravaganza in June.  When the page results were tallied, Sarah Tomolonius, a mentor at the Urban Assembly School for Performing Arts, won the honor of being our top fundraiser by successfully raising $8,008. Sarah, who is also a member of iMentor’s Young Executive Board, urged others to support her page by writing, “It's been a phenomenal match, it's incredibly rewarding, and I would be grateful for your support of a program that has a really profound impact on the lives of mentees--and mentors.”

Some of our mentors motivated their networks to give to iMentor with generous incentives. For example, Gordon McKemie personally matched all gifts made to his page over $100 and raised an amazing $4,121. Kenny Eng leveraged social media and his own talents, enticing his Facebook followers to support his page by promising a home cooked, three-course meal to everyone who donated more than $100.

In the end, the true impact was not simply in dollars raised, but also, in stories told. Each mentor who created and shared a page has helped raise awareness about the iMentor program and contributed to our growth.

Thank you to all the mentors that chose to participate! Click here to see all the amazing pages created for this year’s Donor Drive.

Envisioning the Future of Education at Google’s New York Office

iMentor Posted on April 17, 2012 - 3:35pm

What do you think classrooms will be like in 20 years? That was just one of the questions our CEO, Mike O’Brien, posed to panelists last night at our iConnect event held at the Google NYC offices on the future of education. Mentors, supporters, and community partners came together to learn about innovations in education and how citizens can help support our students and schools.

View photos of the event here.

Mike was joined on stage by Charles Best, founder and CEO, DonorsChoose.org and iMentor board member; Greg Gunn, entrepreneur in residence at City Light and Co-Founder Wireless Generation; Sue Lehmann, board Member of Harlem Children’s Zone and Teach For America; and Albert Wenger from Union Square Ventures. The panelists joined in a lively discussion about making school relevant to students’ lives and career goals, improving curriculum, and integrating technology in and out of the classroom. Our mentors also had an opportunity to ask tough questions about replicating successful school models, college access, and the best advice they can give to their mentees.

Thanks to Google, our panelists, participants, and audience for collaborating on this unique learning opportunity and for making the event a success.

iConnect events are special opportunities for mentors and supporters to become more involved with iMentor through social events and learning opportunities. Join our mailing list to learn about upcoming events.

Announcing the 2012 iMentor Extravaganza

iMentor Posted on April 16, 2012 - 11:44am

Mentors and mentees--mark your calendars! We’re excited to announce that the 2012 iMentor Extravaganza will be on Saturday, June 9, from 12:00 - 4:00 PM at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn.

The iMentor Extravaganza is our signature year-end event where hundreds of our mentors, mentees, and supporters celebrate mentoring and a successful school year with food, music, games and fun! It's your opportunity to spend quality time with your mentee and meet other great pairs.

Check out our photo gallery from the 2011 iMentor Extravaganza for some great images!

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