iMentor Blog

Program Update: Hurricane Sandy

Mike O'Brien, CEO, iMentor Posted on November 9, 2012 - 6:59pm

Although some days have passed since we felt the initial impact of Hurricane Sandy, hundreds of thousands of people are still experiencing its effects throughout the East Coast. A few of those most seriously affected are within our own community of mentees, mentors, and their families, and we are committed to supporting them during this difficult time.

In the past two weeks, we have seen an outpouring of support among the iMentor community to aid those in need. One of our partner schools in New York City has served as an evacuation site; mentors have provided emotional support to their mentees; and individuals have donated their time and money to recovery efforts. If you would like to make a donation of time, money, or goods to relief efforts, please visit the websites of the Robin Hood Foundation or the American Red Cross to learn how you can help. Robin Hood, an iMentor partner, and the Red Cross are well equipped to provide immediate assistance to those who need it most in New York City and across the East Coast.

At iMentor specifically, the focus of our response is to ensure our mentoring programs continue to help our mentees, schools, and partners in the wake of the disaster. Our staff has been working in close collaboration with our partner schools, evaluating the specific needs of our mentees and their families so that we can help connect them with the resources they need. While our mentor-mentee events have been postponed as our schools and neighborhoods recover, our staff has been coordinating communication between mentors and mentees to ensure, as much as possible, students have emotional support during this time. We have also revised our curricula to instruct our mentors and mentees to communicate with each other about their experiences of the storm and about any specific needs mentees may have. Additionally, we are working closely with our nonprofit partners in affected areas outside of New York City to support their responses in their communities. Our work will continue to evolve to address the changing needs of our schools, mentees, volunteers, and partners throughout the recovery process.

Recovery will not be easy for everyone, but if we all work together, our homes, schools, communities, and cities can begin to make progress. Thank you for all you are doing to support those affected by Hurricane Sandy and the iMentor community.

Program Update

Posted on November 6, 2012 - 6:02pm

At iMentor, our thoughts this week are with the hundreds of thousands of people still experiencing the effects of Hurricane Sandy throughout the East Coast. We hope that you and your families have weathered the storm safely.

We are pleased that this week, New York City public schools are open again, as is the iMentor office. Due to ongoing recovery efforts, not all students have been able to return to school immediately. Some mentor-mentee events have been postponed or rescheduled to accommodate the needs of our students, volunteers, and schools.

Mentors can contact their Program Coordinators for more information about activities at their mentees' schools. All mentors should be sure to check their email for updates from their Program Coordinators for more specific and up-to-date information.

As always, we hope that our students, mentors, and partners are well during this challenging time.

Severe Weather Update

Posted on October 31, 2012 - 11:22am

iMentor's office will be closed through October 31 due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We hope that you and your families have weathered the storm safely.

Due to the severe weather, and the subsequent closure of all New York City public schools and the iMentor offices through Wednesday, October 31, some iMentor events this week are postponed. We expect to resume iMentor events once public schools reopen and transportation is restored.

Mentors: For the latest information on activities at your mentees' school, please read emails from your Program Coordinator. Contact your Program Coordinator if you have any questions or concerns.

Above all, we hope that all our students, mentors, and partners are well during this challenging time. We will continue to provide updates as we have additional information.

iMentor 2012 Benefit Dinner: Highlights Video

Posted on October 29, 2012 - 5:28pm

At iMentor's second annual Benefit Dinner on October 24, 2012, mentors, students, educators, supporters, and celebrity guests of iMentor gathered at New York City's Mandarin Oriental Hotel for an exciting evening in celebration of mentoring. This highlight video captures special moments throughout the night, from mentor-mentee pairs posing for pictures on our red carpet to celebrity guests discussing the importance of mentoring. Additionally, mentors and mentees share their college successes with the audience, and other iMentor participants talk about what the organization has meant to them.

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!

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