iMentor Announces New Leadership and New Partnerships to Support First-Generation College Goers in Oakland and East Bay

Bay Area

OAKLAND, CA–iMentor, a national mentoring organization with a 20-year track record of increasing the number of first-generation college graduates, is thrilled to announce a new executive director for its Bay Area program and a landmark new school partnership aimed at increasing support for students from historically under-resourced communities in Oakland and the East Bay.

iMentor Bay Area has named Dr. Jamal Fields, an educator with more than 25 years of experience, as new executive director, and recently launched a partnership with Oakland Unity High School, a college prep high school with a student body that is 90 percent LatinX and 5 percent Black. Ninety percent of all students’ families at the school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

"We have seen the tremendous challenges faced by first-generation college students. The odds are stacked against them. At Unity, we are excited to partner with iMentor to provide sustained, one-on-one support both before and after graduation. We believe that an effective mentor, who can help them negotiate both the academic and psychological obstacles, can be the difference between college completion or dropping out,” said William Nee, principal at Unity High School.

As part of their proven method to support first-generation students, iMentor uses a “whole school” approach, pairing every student in partner schools with an adult mentor for four years, supporting students from historically marginalized communities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions.

For Fields, who joined iMentor in August, mentoring relationship are key to student success—and his passion is rooted in personal experience.

“Mentors have been a huge part of my life,” said Fields, whose mom passed away when he was young. “Adults that cared for, encouraged, and pushed me had a big impact on my life. I know how much it matters to have caring adults in your corner.”

Fields most recently served as chief academic officer at Life Learning Academy. Before coming to iMentor, he worked as a classroom teacher and principal at multiple schools. He also held roles outside of the school system, helping to develop innovative new models while working for New Schools Venture Fund and serving youth during the out-of-school time as the VP of Clubhouses and High School Programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

“Dr. Fields’ passion for youth advocacy is results-driven and transparent,” said Mike Jones, vice president of the Redwood City Clubhouse at Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula, who worked with Dr. Fields at Boys and Girls Clubs. “He is always seeking opportunities and creating safe spaces for youth to flourish, both personally and professionally. Additionally, his advocacy for staff and community is unsurpassed.”

Fields holds a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, an Administrative Services Credential, a bachelor's degree in sociology from UC Santa Cruz, a master’s degree in education from UC Berkeley, and a doctoral degree in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Together with a recently hired program manager who will support iMentor’s program at Unity High, Fields looks forward to continuing to grow and expand iMentor’s college and career success programming throughout the Bay Area.

“I was a kid who went to public schools and grew up on public assistance. I ended up going to Harvard. I’m really excited to apply everything I’ve learned for kids who look like me and have similar experiences to what I had growing up,” Fields said.

Nationally, iMentor is currently preparing to support more than 10,000 students this fall. As the country emerges from the health-related, economic, racial justice, and educational challenges that COVID-19 created across the country, iMentor is identifying and meeting the needs of students and mentors as they continue to navigate the impacts of the pandemic. The organization continues to innovate its program model and is investing in key programmatic improvements to strengthen post-secondary success outcomes and career readiness supports.

About iMentor

iMentor builds mentoring relationships that empower students from historically under-resourced communities to graduate high school, succeed in their post-secondary pathway of choice, and achieve their career ambitions. iMentor students outperform the best comparable peer groups in college enrollment and completion.

iMentor partners with public high schools and matches every student in the school with a mentor. Each year iMentor recruits thousands of volunteers to serve as mentors who commit to mentoring a single student for four years in the program, bridging support from high school to post-secondary pathways. With dedicated support from iMentor, mentors gain a holistic understanding of their mentees’ individual talents, aspirations, and challenges, which allows them to provide a level of support that could not be achieved through traditional school counseling alone.

Since 1999, iMentor has matched nearly 38,000 students across the country with mentors. During the 2020-21 program year, iMentor served more than 10,000 students across four regions in Baltimore, the Bay Area, Chicago, and New York City and in 12 additional states through partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters and NPower. To learn more, visit


Shari Mason
[email protected]