iMentor is a rapidly growing organization. After starting with just four employees, and one partner school in the South Bronx in New York City, we now have more than 150 employees who work across the country in cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and beyond. Many of our volunteers only get to know their program manager, but we have a large team of dedicated staff who work tirelessly to ensure that our volunteers are effective and that our students graduate high school and succeed in college. To that end, we want you to get to know some of our teammates by featuring them now and again on our blog! To kick things off, meet Michael Bradley from our Research and Evaluation team.
iMentor: Because iMentor is a college success organization, let’s start there. What college did you attend?
Michael: I completed my bachelor’s degree at Binghamton University and my master’s at NYU. I’d say my favorite part was the independence to make your own choices and experience your own successes and failures. For me, going to college was like taking the training wheels off. It was a real test of the skills and knowledge you learned in high school.
iMentor: When did you join iMentor?
Michael: My time at iMentor started about three years ago. I’ve been on the Research and Evaluation team the whole time. If you’re reading this and you’re a mentor, thank you for taking our surveys! You're one of our most important sources of data about our program. Your input helps the Research and Evaluation, Program Design, Platform, and Development teams, and our program leadership. Seriously, thank you.
My experience before iMentor was primarily in education. I’ve spent time working at a charter school network, doing grant-based research on middle-school math/science programs, and tutoring developmental education students at a community college.
iMentor: And how did you first hear about iMentor?
Michael: I was actually a volunteer mentor BEFORE I worked here. A friend of mine was a mentor and recommended that I get involved. When I learned more about the organization, I was sold. I couldn’t help but think of my own path through secondary and post-secondary education. I had a lot of support to make sure I was on the right path and would be set up to succeed on my own one day. That’s not always the reality in the schools iMentor partners with though. To me, I owed it to the people who supported me to give back and help others get the educational experiences they need to live the life they want.
iMentor: And now that you're employed here, what is it exactly that you do for iMentor?
Michael: I’m an associate director of research and evaluation. My main responsibilities revolve around outcomes measurement and external communications. It’s up to me to evaluate the effectiveness of how we measure outcomes and make sure we’re doing the best job possible. I also help disseminate our research findings inside and outside of the organization. When we find an interesting trend in our data, we share it with our staff and make sure to give our Communications and Development teams a heads up about it.
iMentor: What keeps you motivated at work?
Michael: The people who work here are incredibly dedicated to iMentor’s mission, our students, mentors, and social justice. They constantly challenge the way that you’re thinking about your work. Also, I get to dive into tons of data Scrooge McDuck style. It’s a ton of fun.
iMentor: What are you most proud of since joining iMentor?
Michael: From an organizational perspective, I’m most proud of how far we’ve come in three years. This organization is invested in improving itself so we can make the most impact on our students. We’ve upgraded our technology platform, revised our curriculum, improved our underlying data infrastructure, and rebranded ourselves. Among so many other changes! We’re improving everything from the way our students and mentors interact to the way we communicate. It’s incredible.
Speaking for my team, we’re proud of the data driven culture we’ve been able to create amongst staff. We’ve improved our tools to put information in program managers’ hands, improve management, and foster organization learning. Compared to where we were three years ago, it’s awesome.
iMentor: Do you have a favorite iMentor memory from the past few years?
Michael: A few years back there was an event iMentor held called iMentor Extravaganza. Mentees and mentors would get together to hang out, play sports, or do some crafty activities. My mentee, Matthew, and I wound up playing flag football and we were on opposite teams. He ended up covering me while I was on offense and made sure the quarterback couldn’t throw to me. He was fast, had me covered, and even blocked a pass. It highlighted for me that even though you come in as the mentor with advice or guidance, your mentee can teach you things about yourself. Sometimes they help you realize that we’re obligated to contribute and make a difference in our schools and communities. Sometimes they show you that you have the agility of a bulldozer.