iMentor Celebrates 25 Years of Impact by Extending Its Standout National Mentoring Program from High School Through College Degree to Help First Generation Students Realize Economic Mobility


Since 1999, 42,000+ High School Students Have Received Mentorship from the iMentor Program to Go to College, Explore Careers, and Achieve their Ambitions. Now iMentor is Expanding its Reach to Directly Support First-Generation College Students through College Graduation and Into Careers.

NEW YORK (January 24, 2024) – This January, National Mentoring Month, iMentor celebrates its 25th year of making a meaningful difference in the lives of 42,000+ students in NYC, Chicago, Baltimore and beyond. iMentor stands out as an effective national mentoring program that matches students starting in 11th grade with a mentor and leverages theseenduring, trusting relationships to help youth successfully chart their own path to college. With an impressive history of guiding historically marginalized first-generation students to college, iMentor’s focus is evolving to ensure studentssucceed through college - in terms of persisting, graduating, and going on to thrive in their chosen careers.

In a landscape where a college degree remains the most direct route to economic mobility, iMentor stands out as a game-changer for marginalized youth. Now, more than ever, obtaining a college degree is crucial for first-generation students. It’s predicted that by 2030, a staggering 8.1 million jobs will be available for college graduates. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Recognizing the transformative power of mentorship, iMentor seeks to break down barriers and improve educational outcomes. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, college students that have a mentor are 13% more likely to complete their degree in four years compared to their non-mentored peers.

“At 25 years, iMentor has become a nationally recognized expert in one-on-one high school mentoring and the effective implementation of in-school college success curriculum,” says John Griffin, iMentor Founder. “In the coming years, we seek to leverage our expertise in building strong mentoring relationships and utilize new technology to expand iMentor programming through college, supporting the full continuum of the educational journey. Our committed community of volunteers and corporate partners will be instrumental in setting up an entire generation of youth to pursue and complete a college degree, building a more diverse workforce and generating greater economic mobility.”

25 Years of High School Mentoring: A Foundation for Future Success

Since its founding in 1999, iMentor has forged dynamic, college-and-career-connected learning partnerships between public high schools and corporations in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and beyond. Partnerships target communities that have historically been the most under-resourced – where 90% of the student population qualifies for free or reduced lunch. At the same time, schools in these communities are disproportionately serving Black or Latinx students, 77% of whom will be the first in their family to attend college. Key to iMentor’s success in engaging students has been a uniquely comprehensive model that builds support into the school day. The curriculum has three main components:

  1. 1:1 Mentor Relationships: Starting junior year of high school, iMentor pairs students with adult volunteers that act as personal champions. Mentors help students identify career interests and college pathways, including navigating applications, majors, and college affordability.
  2. In-School College Success Curriculum: Postsecondary planning is integrated into the school day with trained iMentor staff teaching weekly in-school college-and-career success classes.
  3. Career-Connected Learning Ensures Greater Success in College Selection: Having a better sense of what career ambitions and study interests lead to a better college fit. iMentor provides hands-on career-connected learning through dynamic partnerships with renowned employers like EY, NBA, Morgan Stanley, Amazon, Google, and Bloomberg.

"Mentoring is a powerful way to make a difference in a young person’s life by building valuable relationships and opening doors," said Nancy Cutler, Bloomberg's Head of Corporate Philanthropy for the US, Canada and Latin America. "Since 2009, Bloomberg and iMentor have shared a common goal of strengthening communities and expanding opportunities for success through service. Bloomberg has been proud to host career workshops and serve as founding partner for iMentor’s national mentor training to combat racism in addition to our employees providing nearly 10,000 mentor hours to support the next generation of great leaders."

Mentoring for Persistence and Degree Completion of First-Generation College Students

In 2024, iMentor is building on the meaningful work it has achieved at the high school level to respond to the critical gap colleges are facing across the country – drops in college enrollment and persistence for all students, with particular impact on marginalized groups who stand to significantly benefit from higher education.

iMentor’s evolution will include:

  • Leveraging innovative technology to connect postsecondary students to mentors, using communication channels that complement today’s lifestyles and modes of networking.
  • Forging partnerships with colleges to support first-generation students’ first year college transitions.
  • Providing hands-on career-connected learning and internship support throughout college.
  • Nearing graduation, providing job placement and transition from college-to-job counseling.

“A growing need is arising on college campuses nationwide to address the unique circumstances of first-generation students. We know that individualized support is required to help these students adjust, develop that critical sense of belonging during their first year and be able to successfully persist to graduation,” says iMentor’s CEO Dr. Heather D. Wathington. “As a mentoring leader, iMentor is ready to answer that call by offering colleges the tools they need to serve first-generation students. In partnership, iMentor will help colleges leverage technology to track and use data that will lead to higher persistence and college completion rates for millions of first-generation students. We want to empower first-generation students to secure their seat at the table in college and in the workforce, putting them on a path to upward mobility.”

Throughout this year iMentor will facilitate dynamic programming in New York City, Chicago and Baltimore, culminating with a Champions Dinner in late fall 2024 to celebrate 25 years of impact through mentoring young people.

Those interested in making a lasting impact in a student’s life can visit


About iMentor

iMentor was founded in 1999 by John Griffin, founder of Blue Ridge Capital, and two public-interest lawyers, Richard Buery, Jr. and Matt Klein, who believed in the power of mentoring and the impact of providing young people with equitable access to a college education. Over the past 25 years, we’ve expanded to three regions, 23 partner programs, and served over 42,000 students. iMentor is a national 1:1 mentoring program whose model harnesses the power of long-term, trusting relationships to help first-generation students from communities that have been historically and systemically under-resourced – navigate a path to college and beyond. A nonprofit on the move, iMentor receives praise from students, schools, mentors, and corporate partners as a powerful engine bringing about systemic change, charting new pathways for student success, and connecting US companies to a promising pipeline of next generation talent.


Shari Mason
[email protected]