Citi Foundation awards iMentor $1 million grant

The Citi Foundation today announced a $1 million grant award to iMentor as part of its Pathways to Progress initiative,a three-year, $50 million commitment to give 100,000 low-income youth in the United States an opportunity to develop workplace skills and leadership experience to compete in a 21st-century economy. With this new grant investment, the Citi Foundation has become iMentor’s largest corporate funder.

Through this leadership-level funding, iMentor, a college-success organization that partners with public high schools to match every student with a mentor, will increase its capacity to serve 4,000 New York City students annually by 2016. Currently, iMentor works with 3,000 young people in 18 partner schools. $800,000 of the grant will be matched dollar for dollar through the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund. The Citi Foundation’s support will also enable iMentor to redesign its technology platform, enhance its program data analysis, and better measure its impact.

“In addition to financial support, the Citi Foundation has played a significant role in helping iMentor match students from low-income communities with Citi mentors who help them develop strong college lists, manage their college application process, and ensure that they have taken all of the steps to enroll in college,” said iMentor CEO Mike O’Brien. “Mentors and mentees, for example, research colleges and scholarships, explore internship opportunities, and set academic and career goals.”

Citi mentors are matched one-to-one with students in three- to four-year mentoring relationships, based on career, personal, and academic interests. Currently, there are close to 100 Citi employees volunteering their time and expertise as mentors, and more will be coming onboard as the program expands. Each pair is provided support from a full-time Goddard-certified iMentor counselor to ensure their success and guide them through challenges that may arise.

As Eric Berger, Human Resources specialist at Citi and current mentor notes, “I’ve volunteered with a number of organizations in the past, and I’ve never felt more supported as a volunteer than I do with iMentor. I had all the support to really hit the ground running and help ensure that my mentee Tyler was accepted and enrolled in St. John’s University.”

Over the course of their mentoring relationships, iMentor pairs engage in a robust program model that includes financial literacy events and college and career exploration programs. And last month, iMentor launched its 2014 “Texts for College Success” campaign, which provides college-bound mentees with important information and reminders via text messages to ensure that they successfully matriculate.