iMentor Chicago Hosts a Fireside Chat with Arne and Sarah Duncan

iMentor Chicago celebrated the importance of social capital and hosted a Fireside Chat with Arne and Sarah Duncan, on Thursday, April 13. The event focused on the importance of bridging the gap between Chicago’s students and the ability to connect them with an influential network that can help them get into college and create their own networks.

The event also featured a video that showcased some of the work that iMentor has done in five Chicago Public Schools over the last seven years.

To date, iMentor Chicago has matched more than 2,000 adult volunteer mentors to 2,000 Chicago Public School students. Additionally, iMentor Chicago called upon its community to help recruit 800 more mentors, connect iMentor Chicago to companies, and to make a financial contribution.

The fireside chat was moderated by Samantha Chatman, Emmy award-winning journalist from ABC7 Chicago, where siblings Arne Duncan, the former Chief Executive Officer at Chicago Public Schools and Former Secretary of Education under Obama, and Sarah Duncan, the Co-Executive Director at Network for College Success – UChicago answered questions from Chatman and the crowd.

The event began with iMentor Chicago Executive Director, Nina Longino addressing why human capital and social capital are essential to students’ long-term well-being.

“iMentor’s work is so important because we are bridging human capital’s gaps of our high schools. We know that educational growth is a people process, it’s the networks that help our young people build assets that drive healthy development and long-term well-being.” Longino said, “Much of our careers are shaped and driven by our social connections. iMentor Chicago is proud to be one of the connectors between our communities and future employers all while providing 1:1 mentorship.”

The event also focused on the importance of leveraging 1:1 mentoring relationship to create more equitable pathways to economic mobility for the south and west side schools and families that iMentor Chicago serves. In 2022, two out of three of iMentor Chicago South and West side students enrolled in college, which is above the national average.

The event then transitioned into the fireside chat with Arne and Sarah Duncan where they stressed how it is critical that we provide our nation’s youth with mentors who care about their well-being and provide students with the proper resources to create and define their own paths.

Arne Duncan shared, “All of our young people are growing up with mentors, just not the right ones. So, it’s desperately important that our kids have access to mentors that want the best for them. I want to get more good people in our kids’ lives.” Added Sarah, “Mentors share their experience and their personalities and their joys. Society is structured to keep people isolated and reaching across these barriers is making the society better and stronger.”

Samantha Chatman then pivoted the conversation to focus on the strengths of iMentor’s partnerships sharing, “One thing about iMentor Chicago that is so incredible is how invested corporate partners are such as the NBA Foundation, William Blair Foundation, and Northwestern Medicine.”

She then helped moderate questions from mentors and mentees from the audience who asked questions about governmental policies and community partnerships.

In a heartwarming moment, Samantha Chatman flipped the script and asked one of the mentors, Benitta, “What prompted you to get involved with iMentor?” Benitta answered, “As I first heard of the organization I was impressed with their vision and without mentorship I would have never finished my engineering degree. I would have never transitioned to the educational space without mentorship. So, it’s been my experience with mentorship that inspired me to become a mentor.”

The event ended with remarks from Longino who encouraged the community to join iMentor Chicago’s village by becoming a volunteer or by supporting iMentor’s work.

Sign up to receive more information about becoming a mentor.