iMentor Blog

iMentor Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star to Help Youth in Texas Get to College

Posted on October 1, 2012 - 5:45pm

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star isn’t just the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter in the country—it is also iMentor’s newest and biggest nonprofit partner.

Big Brothers Big Sisters and iMentor are teaming up to launch the mentor2.0 program, which for the first time will allow the Texas-based organization to focus specifically on helping high school students build crucial skills linked to college success. Utilizing iMentor’s technology-enhanced mentoring curriculum, Big Brothers Big Sisters is broadening its program offerings to address the critical needs of young people in North Texas, many of whom will be the first in their families to apply to college.

For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has paired at-risk youth with caring adult role models who can positively impact their development and help them reach educational success. Now, Big Brothers Big Sisters is working with iMentor to design the mentor2.0 program, building on their commitment to facilitating quality mentoring relationships. Through this partnership, Big Brothers Big Sisters is providing their mentor-mentee pairs with iMentor’s proven college-success curriculum, college resources, staff support, and the iMentor Interactive technology platform. This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star plans to match 600 students in North Texas with college-educated mentors who can steer them through applying and smoothly transitioning to college.

In the mentor2.0 program, mentors and mentees will e-mail each other once a week to set college preparation goals and discuss progress toward achieving them. Once every four to six weeks, they will meet at the mentee’s school to build college applications, practice job interviewing techniques, and help the student develop other academic, professional, and social competencies. Utilizing the flexibility of email-based interactions, Big Brothers Big Sisters is able to engage busy professionals working in various sectors who are interested in supporting local youth and might not otherwise have the time.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area professionals at Ernst & Young, Comerica, Allstate, AT&T, Environmental Protection Agency, Dallas Independent School District, Irving Independent School District, and Uplift Education have already signed up to mentor through the program.

iMentor is pleased to share our college-success mentoring model with one of the oldest and most respected youth organizations in the country.

iMentor is partnering with 15 organizations across the country this year, and is continuing to expand. Interested in becoming an iMi partner? Find out how!

Mentor Makes the Time to Mentor Student Through Milestone Year

Posted on September 28, 2012 - 2:18pm

Mentor of the Month

Humad, a manager at Accenture, travels frequently for work—but that didn’t stop him from being an exceptional mentor to Waseem during his senior year at the International High School at Lafayette in Brooklyn. What makes his commitment to iMentor possible, Humad says, is the program’s efficient structure and curriculum, which consists of weekly e-mail conversations and once-a-month in-person events. Both the e-mail exchanges and one-to-one interaction is guided by iMentor’s curriculum aimed at helping students build critical skills linked to college success.

“I travel every week so having something set for me to talk about makes it much easier,” said Humad. “I figure out how to plan around my work projects and prioritize to make the time for this. Sometimes I’ll write the weekly e-mail while I’m waiting to catch a plane.”

When Humad and Waseem first met in fall 2012, they learned that they had a lot in common immediately—due in part to iMentor’s advanced matching algorithm that matches students with mentors whose professional backgrounds relate to their own career aspirations. Humad found out that Waseem planned to study technology, the field in which he works, so he was able to advise the teen on how to choose the right college major and degree program. And though Waseem was initially concerned that he’d get a mentor he couldn’t relate to, he was pleasantly surprised to be matched with Humad, who shares his cultural heritage.

“We are both Pakistani and when I spoke to him in Urdu, I could tell he opened up a bit more,” said Humad.

Throughout their partnership, the pair worked together on Waseem’s college applications and tracked down scholarship opportunities. The guidance provided by iMentor program coordinators, who coach and support our volunteers, gave Humad the assurance that he could always offer support to Waseem—even if he wasn’t immediately sure about how to answer a question.

“It’s great having someone to bounce ideas off of, and a point of contact to call if your mentee isn’t responding to something,” said Humad.

For Humad, the biggest reward of his involvement in the program has been watching Waseem pass his Regents exams, graduate from high school, and enroll in Brooklyn College, where he is currently taking classes as a full-time student.

“It makes a difference to kids to have somebody who just cares about their success,” said Humad.

Do you want to make a positive difference in the life of a high school student? This fall, we urgently need 200 more men to join our network of New York City professionals who are empowering students from low-income communities to succeed in college. Sign up to become a mentor today.

iMentor Welcomes Seven New School Partners in New York City

Posted on September 26, 2012 - 1:43pm

iMentor is pleased to announce the addition of seven new partner schools to our community this academic year, allowing us to bring the iMentor NYC program to a total of 19 public high schools across four New York City boroughs. Through our new partnerships with these schools and our 13 existing school partnerships, iMentor is expanding its programs to match 2,400 students from low-income communities with mentors this fall.

Our new school partners include the High School for Service and Learning at Erasmus, the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media, and Lyons Community School in Brooklyn; the Academy for Software Engineering, Frederick Douglass Academy II, and Manhattan Bridges High School in Manhattan; and Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx.

All of our partner schools provide teacher and staff support to the program, make space in the class schedule to accommodate the “iMentor session” led by our program coordinators, and ensure students have access to computer labs so they can read and compose weekly e-mails to their mentors. Mentor-mentee pairs at our new and established school partners will be exchanging their first emails this month. They’ll also soon meet in person at an iMentor event to become more acquainted with one another and begin working toward iMentor’s curriculum goals.

Tailored to the unique challenges students face each school year, our curriculum goals are geared specifically toward helping students reach the key milestones that will enable them to successfully navigate the college applications process, graduate high school college-ready, and transition to college with the tools they need to thrive, academically and personally.

We’re thrilled to start the year with these 19 schools and look forward to supporting our mentors and mentees every step of the way as they establish trust, identify goals, and build strong relationships.  

This fall, we urgently need 100 more men to join our network of New York City professionals who are empowering students from low-income communities to succeed in college. Sign up to become a mentor today.

Put the "Men" Back in Mentoring

Posted on September 18, 2012 - 5:32pm

Pencils are sharpened. Notebooks are open. Supplies are labeled. But more than 200 boys are still waiting for one last thing before they can complete their school checklists.

It’s not the latest pair of limited edition sneakers. It’s a mentor.

Every year, students at our partner schools in New York City buzz with anticipation about who their mentor will be. Where does he work? Does he have glasses? What does he look like? Does he look like me?

We think he looks like you.

You already have the skills to be a great mentor—all you need is a positive outlook, compassion, and enthusiasm. We’ll help you be as effective as possible. iMentor provides a full-time staff member solely devoted to the success of your mentoring relationship. So you don’t have to do this alone.

You will be able to be a sounding board for your mentee. You can help him explore colleges and complete his applications. You can help build his writing and social skills. You can help him become the man he wants to be. You can achieve all of this by committing about six hours a month—half in person and half online—to mentoring a high school student.

Thanks to an impressive and overwhelming response from female volunteers in recent weeks, we have reached our quota for female mentors for our mentees this fall. But historically, men have volunteered at lower rates than women. And this year, our male students outnumber their female counterparts, creating an urgent need for more male volunteers. The boys in our program are committed to finding success and are looking for great role models like you.

Help give our students a great start, and apply to become a mentor today. We’re looking forward to having you join us!

Nicole Griffith named first Ernst & Young Mentor of the Year

Posted on September 14, 2012 - 9:15am

Nicole Griffith, a lead recruiter for the Financial Services Office of Ernst & Young LLP, received the first Ernst and Young Mentor of the Year Award at the second annual Mentor’s Champions Golf Challenge held Sunday, Sept. 9 at Friar’s Head Golf Club in Riverhead, L.I.

Nicole has mentored New York City high school students through iMentor since 2001 — but her commitment to mentoring extends back to her days as a college student at Cornell and into all aspects of her life. Whether she is helping new members of her team at Ernst & Young adapt to life at the firm, reaching out to minority high school students through the Cornell Alumni Ambassador Network or helping her mentees become college-ready, Nicole believes that creating a strong personal connection is one of the ways she can make a difference.

In addition to contributing her time as a mentor, Nicole also uses her professional skills to expand the reach of iMentor’s programming within the New York community and within Ernst & Young. As a member of the iMentor Women’s Committee, Nicole extends her involvement with iMentor beyond mentoring and is able to build on her prior experience with the iMentor Young Executive Board (2003–08). And she teams with the Community Engagement Leaders at Ernst & Young LLP’s New York office to raise the profile of iMentor at the firm and to recruit new volunteers.

Nicole shares her thoughts on mentoring below:

Q. Why are you a mentor?

A. There are so many reasons, but I think the most important one is that I appreciate the people who have helped me along the way, and I want to give others the same opportunities I had. For me, mentoring is about setting up people for success. And I absolutely love watching the young people I mentor open up to the world of possibilities and begin creating an education and career path that is right for them.

Q. With work and other obligations, how do you make time for mentoring?

A. I have to give credit to iMentor for making it easy. First, iMentor builds deep partnerships with public high schools in New York City, enrolling every single student at their partner schools into a mentoring relationship. This helps me as a mentor because I know I’m part of a broader community that values what I’m doing. Second, the iMentor model is very flexible; iMentor combines monthly face-to-face meetings with ongoing email communication, so I’m able to connect with my student in a way that works for both our schedules. Third, iMentor brings me a really robust set of tools to support me as a mentor — everything from ideas on how to build a personal relationship to tools that support college exploration and preparation.

Q. What role can mentors play in helping youth become college-ready?

A. Getting ready for college can be daunting, especially if a student is the first person in his or her family to pursue that path. Mentors can help students understand the different options — community college, four-year college, etc. — and research majors and degree programs. They can work with the student to develop a plan for tackling the application process. They can provide coaching on things we may take for granted: how to dress for an interview, questions to ask, how to follow up with a thank-you note. Most importantly, they can provide the mentee with encouragement and be a role model.

Q. How does mentoring benefit the mentor?

A. A key to personal and professional success is a person’s ability to build and grow authentic relationships. As a mentor, you connect with a young person who may look different from you or may live in a neighborhood that you’ve never visited. He or she probably has a very different relationship to technology. Your relationship with your mentee can make you a more inclusive leader, and that’s important for all aspects of your life.

Article originally appeared on

Summer Events Round-Up

Posted on September 4, 2012 - 2:40pm

Though mentors and mentees aren’t required to meet at the iMentor office when school is out, iMentor made it possible for them to participate in fun, free summer activities this year by encouraging them to attend in iMentor-identified events in New York City.

In early July, female pairs met at Etsy Labs in Brooklyn to sew and design their very own drawstring grocery bags. Throughout the summer, pairs traveled to various cultural landmarks such as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Bronx Zoo, the Brooklyn Museum and the New York Aquarium on pay-what-you-wish admission days, where they were greeted by iMentor program coordinators. On these days, pairs were free to leave the larger group and structure their own afternoons.

To close the summer, mentees who recently graduated from high school visited with their mentors for the last time before starting college on Manhattan’s West Side. They walked The High Line, a public park built on an historic, elevated freight rail line, and chatted about the exciting changes ahead.  

As the new school year begins, we wish continued success to our high school mentees as well as our mentees who are beginning their college careers! We hope you all had a fun and restful summer. 

iMentor needs your help finding 200 more great male mentors! Our new mentees will start school in just a few weeks and by signing up and spreading the word, you can help us ensure they’ll have the support they need to get off to a great start. Sign up to become a mentor by September 15!

iMentor Featured with Top National Nonprofits as Part of the New Reddit Donate Campaign

Posted on August 27, 2012 - 12:15pm

iMentor is thrilled to be featured along with top nonprofits across the country on Reddit, as part of the RedditDonate campaign launching today. The popular social news aggregator has made it possible for millions of people to share and exchange the information they are most passionate about. Now, Reddit community members can donate directly to the nonprofit organizations whose work they believe in. Two pages on Reddit, r/finance and r/mentors, have adopted iMentor as their cause and are featuring a donate button for our organization (find it on the right side of the page).

By clicking the donate button for iMentor on these pages, you can make a contribution that will help us achieve our mission of ensuring that more students from low-income communities have the tools and guidance they need to graduate high school college-ready and succeed as college students.

Through our involvement with this campaign, we’re building our community of supporters and connecting to more people who are interested in raising awareness about the critical need of young people as they embark on their path to college. To learn more about RedditDonate, read Reddit’s blog introducing the campaign.

Join the Reddit community in supporting iMentor by giving today through the Reddit Donate campaign, and spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter using @redditdonate and #give!

A Seasoned Volunteer Still Finds Pleasant Surprises in Mentoring

Posted on August 24, 2012 - 11:07am

Mentor of the Month

Ryan Cunn, an Associate at Deutsche Bank, Inc., has volunteered with iMentor for nearly four years. He has mentored three students through the process of taking the SAT, applying to college, and making the college transition. Even with all this experience, he says that his relationship with 18-year-old Amadou, who recently graduated from the International High School at Lafayette, has exceeded his expectations.

Amadou arrived in the U.S. six years ago from Guinea, Africa. He was matched with Ryan during his junior year of high school and ready to work hard to get to college. “His success in the iMentor program is strictly a testament to his drive,” said Ryan.

With iMentor’s college readiness curriculum guiding each of their one-on-one meetings, the pair worked on SAT and Regents prep, discussed topics for Amadou’s college essays, and talked through the financial aspects of college—and didn’t stop there. They also began meeting regularly on weekends, in addition to the once-a-month meeting requirement of iMentor’s program, to go through practice tests and improve Amadou’s study habits.

“He would come with an agenda saying ‘this is what I want to get done today’,” said Ryan. “He was incredibly committed and didn’t want to waste any time. Then, he’d get home and give me a call later on that night to ask a question or tell me about how something clicked for him,” Ryan added. “It became the two of us going back and forth to make sure he was achieving his goal of getting into college.”

At the end of their two-year match, the pair has a lot to celebrate. Amadou was accepted to six CUNY schools and plans to major in business and finance. He is also pursuing his passion for film in his free time, an interest that Ryan encourages wholeheartedly.

Grateful for the guidance he received during his formative years, Ryan says he decided to mentor because he wanted to offer structured academic support to students to help them reach their goals. He didn’t know he would get back so much in return.

“I learned more from Amadou than he learned from me,” said Ryan. “You sign up and show up and you think it’s going to be impactful in this person’s life—and then it has that effect on your own life.” 

Mentors Get Ready for the New School Year at Workshop Event

Posted on August 20, 2012 - 12:00pm

Last week, mentors in our New York City program gathered for a workshop event held at iMentor’s office in downtown New York. One of the many support opportunities available to our mentors, this event provided veteran volunteers returning to our program with an opportunity to reflect on their experiences from previous years and create action plans to enhance the quality of their relationships.

After a warm welcome from our CEO, Mike O’Brien, mentors broke into small groups focused on a specific aspect of the mentoring relationship, such as relationship building, getting ready for college, and supporting students through academic or personal struggles.

To guide their group work, mentors received a worksheet with questions aimed at helping them identify areas for improvement in their matches and set goals for the upcoming academic year. Mentors also received information about high school graduation requirements in New York City—a way to help them gauge whether their mentees are on track to graduate—as well as other helpful print and online resources.

At the end of the evening, iMentor program coordinators facilitated a group discussion to give mentors the chance to share helpful insights with one another. And for more focused one-on-one support, mentors were able to troubleshoot their specific concerns with a program coordinator.

Do you want to help improve the life of a high school student through a supported, one-on-one mentoring relationship? Sign up to become a mentor today.

Welcoming 18 New Staff and Gearing Up for the Year Ahead at All-Staff Orientation

Posted on August 15, 2012 - 3:12pm

Last week, iMentor staff members gathered at New York University’s Wasserman Center for our annual All-staff Orientation. For two days, iMentor staff discussed our goals for the upcoming school year and years to come and also got to know one another better.

Eighteen new staff members joined us for the first time at this orientation—and what says “welcome!” better than requesting that they share a quirky fact about themselves in a roomful of new people? To kick-off our first session, senior volunteer coordinator Amanda Neel had all staffers form a large circle, introduce themselves and name their favorite orange item (which happens to be iMentor’s favorite color).

Our work kicked off when we heard from senior staff who shared details about our organization’s ambitious goals for this school year and the next five years. This year alone, iMentor will serve 2,400 students in New York City and help 15 organizations across the country implement their own mentoring programs. Our whole staff will be working together to provide the resources, tools, and expertise to ensure each of these mentoring matches helps students reach their college goals.

We also gave the floor to four mentors in our New York City program whose lives have changed in surprising ways since signing up to mentor. As part of a panel discussion, program managers Victoria Lowe and Elizabeth Kennedy fielded questions to each volunteer about their experiences. Quinton Mudd, an accountant at Forest City Ratner Companies, said his mentee, Ismael, didn’t think college was a possibility when they first met—now, “he knows it’s a necessity.” Jeanette Park, content director at and seasoned editor, said she was happy to be matched with Shineil, a young aspiring journalist—it allowed her to lend her expertise to the teen’s college application process. And she even got something unexpected in return. “Joining iMentor showed me I want to pursue another avenue in my career. I’m now working toward a degree in applied psychology.”

And those weren’t our only special guests. Three of our board members—’s founder and CEO Charles Best, the Children’s Aid Society’s president and CEO Richard Buery, and the Blue Ridge Foundation’s executive director Matt Klein—added to the conversation. They shared how they first got involved with iMentor, how their organizations are making a difference in the lives of young people, and the lessons they’ve learned over the years.  

Even with a busy schedule of panel discussions, presentations, and group work, we found time to put on skits, play games, and even compete in our annual iMentor Olympics. Now, after a great week, the whole iMentor staff is ready to take on another exciting program year.

Want to be part of the iMentor team? Check out our job openings at

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