iMentor's Response to COVID-19

Around the globe, across the nation, and within iMentor communities, Coronavirus (COVID-19) is presenting us with a crisis of unprecedented scale, whose impact is yet to be fully understood. The health, safety and wellbeing of the iMentor community—our students, mentors, staff, and partners—is our first priority. Our hearts and thoughts are also with those who will be most affected by this pandemic, including the most vulnerable among us.

Over the past twenty years at iMentor, we have built a community founded on the insight that relationships have an incredible power to embrace and respond to the complexity in our students’ experiences. We have built a community that makes explicit our responsibility to support and uplift one another, especially in difficult times. And we have built a mentoring model that allows people to connect across distance and difference. These insights have never been more important than in this moment. The urgency in our call to action has never been stronger.

Our response over these next few months will include tens of thousands of individual acts of empathy, support, and connection between mentors and mentees in cities across this country. In the face of extreme disruption and increasing isolation, sustaining and affirming connections will be foundational in getting us through this crisis and to a better place on the other side. This is how iMentor will respond: sustaining connections and providing support, one relationship at a time. I hope and believe our community is poised for a moment like this.

Below are updates on how we are supporting our community in this work.

Our Programmatic Response
Our first priorities programmatically have been to (1) ensure our mentors and mentees are supported and (2) to design ways to continue our work amid widespread school closures. Across all iMentor regions, school districts are closed, and we can no longer run traditional iMentor programming.

  • As a first priority, we have asked all mentors to reach out to their mentee, to ensure they are OK, and to identify any support that they might need. Our Program Managers are helping people work through the issues that are identified.
  • We are directing students to iMentor’s Emergency Fund, which can help with short-term financial needs.
  • We have begun the process of designing a way to continue the important work between mentors and mentees in a completely virtual environment. We will be rolling out new programming to all mentors and mentees beginning this week.
  • Lastly, we are beginning to think through the challenge of recruiting thousands of new mentors for next year in this difficult environment.

Our Organizational Response 

As an employer, iMentor is taking all necessary precautions to protect its staff and limit the spread of the virus.

  • By March 12th, all iMentor employees across the country had transitioned to working remotely.
  • We have implemented a staff emergency fund, to help provide for unexpected expenses for iMentor staff and their families.
  • We have expanded paid leave policies to adjust to the circumstances that staff may be dealing with.
  • We are connecting staff to mental health supports and benefits.
  • We are showing up for each other, supporting each other, centering relationships among staff the same way we do in our program, and staying focused on responding to this important moment in our work.

While we all continue to adjust to this changing reality and the fluidity of this crisis, we are embracing this moment to put our responsibility to support each other into action. We will continue to provide you with updates on our response. In the meantime, thank you for all you bring to this community. It is inspiring and deeply appreciated.

Wishing you health and safety during this difficult time.

Mike O’Brien