iMentor Blog

Mentors, Mentees, and Stars Come Out for iMentor’s Benefit Dinner

Posted on October 25, 2012 - 5:52pm
iMentor mentor-mentee pairs with Tracy Pollan and Michael J. Fox.

iMentor held its second annual Benefit Dinner last night in the grand ballroom of New York City’s Mandarin Oriental. Students, mentors, educators, and supporters of iMentor—including Juju Chang, Michael J. Fox, Tracy Pollan, Gayle King, and Star Jones--came dressed in their best and ready to celebrate the dramatic impact our programs are having on the lives of all participants.

View photos from the event.

iMentor Board Chair John Griffin served as the master of ceremonies and introduced the audience to mentors and mentees from the past and present who have worked together for college success. Guests had the opportunity to hear from one special pair that met 10 years ago through iMentor’s program—Julia and Debbie. Julia credits her mentor Debbie not only with motivating her to go to college but also for being a life-long friend. Watch their story.

John also had some help from ABC News Correspondent Juju Chang, who took the stage to moderate a conversation on mentoring with audience members, including pairs in our program and a few surprise celebrity guests. Melissa talked about how her mentor, Elizabeth, is helping her map out a plan to get into a 4-year college. Eric and his mentee, Zachary, spoke about how they’ve worked together to find internships and programs to help Zachary strengthen his college applications to engineering schools. Michael J. Fox shared how influential his mentors were during the early days of his acting career. And Gayle King told us about a colleague who mentored her when she started her career as a journalist.

Next, iMentor CEO Mike O’Brien took the stage as well to thank our guests, supporters, and friends who have helped us expand to reach 2,400 students in New York City this year and thousands more nationwide through iMentor Interactive. Mike also gave inspiring insight into how our program achieves results and the exciting work we have planned for the future.

We thank all attendees who came out for this special evening and made it so memorable. We hope you will join us this year as we provide more students from low-income communities with strong mentors dedicated to their success in high school, college, and beyond.  

College Success Story: Julia and Debbie

Posted on October 25, 2012 - 11:25am

As a young adult growing up on New York City’s Lower East Side, Julia Naomi Blue had a lot of ambition but didn’t initially envision college as part of her future. Debbie DeFord Minerva, who had been the first in her family to attend college, saw a bit of herself in Julia—and knew the teen had the smarts and determination for higher education. “Debbie helped get me to a place where education was not a backup plan, but the plan,” said Julia. “Without her, I wouldn’t have gone to college or gotten my first job.” When Julia graduated from Howard University in 2010, she followed in Debbie’s footsteps by becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree. Now, 10 years since they first met, the women have a deep friendship – and this fall, Julia began mentoring a high school student at the International High School at Lafayette in Brooklyn.

Student Starts Making Career Plans with Mentor's Help

Posted on October 18, 2012 - 3:42pm
Edward and Nicholas at iMentor's office in New York City.

Mentor of the Month

When Edward, an executive director at UBS Investment Bank, moved to the U.S. from Australia a few years ago, he was looking for a way to get more actively involved in the New York City community. While meeting John Griffin, iMentor’s founder and board chair, Edward learned about iMentor’s flexible volunteer opportunity that offers busy professionals a way to give back and to network with other mentors in the program. It sounded like a perfect fit.

In 2009, iMentor matched Edward with Nicholas, who was then a freshman at the Urban Assembly School for Careers in Sports. Edward, though initially nervous about how much they’d be able to relate to one another, quickly found common ground with the teen.

“I vividly remember the first time I met him in his school’s gym,” said Edward. “Nicholas was open about how important his family is to him, and that’s very similar to me. I have a big family that I’m very close to.”  

Throughout their four-year partnership in iMentor’s College Ready program Edward has worked with Nicholas to strengthen his writing skills and get to his classes on time. Nicholas, who had been struggling academically, slowly but surely began to pass more of his exams, giving him the confidence he needed to become more proactive about planning his future.  

“He’s gotten to a point where he takes a lot of pride in his schoolwork and does try very hard,” said Edward. “Seeing his career goals develop and his attitude toward his schoolwork develop has been very pleasing to me.”

With one year left to go in their match, the pair plans on working together over the next few months to solidify Nicholas’s post-graduation plans, as he is on track to receive his high school diploma this spring. With his eye on joining the United States Marine Corps, Nicholas is excited about what lies ahead for him.  

Though Edward knows he has been instrumental in helping Nicholas reach important milestones during his high school career and cultivate a more positive mindset, he says that their relationship has changed his life and outlook as well.

“At times I think I get more out of this than Nicholas does,” said Edward. “My involvement in the program is one of the best stress relievers for me on bad days. When I see him, it makes my own worries seem far less important.”

Second Annual Fall Benefit Coming Up at NYC’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Posted on October 10, 2012 - 3:49pm
Last year's fall benefit, hosted by Katie Couric, had 300 iMentor supporters in attendance.

iMentor is delighted to hold its second annual fall Benefit Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York City on Wednesday, October 24. As iMentor grows to reach more students in New York City and other cities throughout the country, this special evening will allow us to recognize the supporters that make our work possible and the amazing successes our participants continue to achieve together.

With iMentor Board Chair John Griffin serving as the master of ceremonies, the night will bring together our community of students, mentors, schools, and non-profits that are supporting young people as they pursue their college goals. As part of the evening, award-winning ABC News Correspondent Juju Chang will moderate a conversation on mentoring, in which mentors and students in our program will share about the milestones they’ve reached and several special guests will talk about what mentoring has meant to them.

Last year’s benefit was a tremendous success with 300 iMentor supporters in attendance to celebrate the transformative power of our mentoring.

Join us for this special evening by purchasing a ticket or sponsoring a table. Or, make a tax-deductible contribution to iMentor today.

The New York Community Trust and New York Magazine Announce iMentor as a Finalist for their 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Awards

Posted on October 3, 2012 - 1:23pm

iMentor has been named one of the six finalists for the 2012 New York Community Trust – New York Magazine Nonprofit Excellence Awards, selected from a group of ten previously named semifinalists. These prestigious awards, managed by the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC) and Philanthropy New York since 2007, honor outstanding management practices and encourage innovation and communication among New York's nonprofit community.

The six finalist organizations were chosen for demonstrating excellent best practices and performance in the seven areas of non-profit excellence. The commitment of the finalist organizations to these seven key areas has allowed them to significantly improve the lives of thousands of New Yorkers in communities throughout the city. In recognizing the huge roles these organizations are playing in building a better New York, the Awards aim to draw attention to the uniquely effective organizational methods used by the nominees to help other leading nonprofits improve their management practices.

The award program’s 28-member Selection Committee will select the three winning organizations in the coming weeks and honor them at a special awards presentation this November.

iMentor is thrilled to be among the top six New York nonprofit organizations receiving this honor and congratulates the other finalists!

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 3blmedia.com.

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