iMentor''s mission is to improve the lives of young people from underserved communities in New York City through innovative, technology-based approaches to youth mentoring and education. iMentor was founded in 1999 by hedge-fund manager John Griffin (Blue Ridge Capital), and two civil rights attorneys, Rich Buery and Matt Klein. The program began with 49 students in one school in the South Bronx. Just ten years later, iMentor now serves 1,200 students annually and has matched and supported a total of 7,000 mentor/mentee pairs (14,000 participants), partnering with more than 30 schools and after-school programs located in some of the most underserved and economically-disadvantaged minority communities in New York City. In 2007, iMentor began helping organizations all over the world to implement high-impact mentoring programs based on our proven model with the launch of our national technical assistance program, iMentor Interactive.
Programs: iMentor NYC is a direct service, high school-based mentoring program with a focus on advancing mentees’ individual journeys towards success. Relationships are built via a unique combination of email and in-person events, which provides flexibility for volunteers, enabling professionals who would not be able to participate in a traditional mentoring program to get involved. We pair mentors—100% of whom hold bachelors degrees—with young people who are most in need of role models. A great majority of mentees are minorities, with 83% living below the poverty line; 70% of mentees’ parents are immigrants and only 15% of parents have a BA. The success of this program is demonstrated by the fact that 94% of eligible mentees graduated from high school after the 2007-08 program year (compared to New York City’s average graduation rate of 60.7%) and 77% enrolled in college. By facilitating academic achievement, relationships with mentors are effectively changing the trajectory of mentees’ lives.
iMentor recruits, screens, trains and matches volunteer mentors with students living in New York City neighborhoods, and supports the relationships; designs technology-focused educational projects that allow mentors and mentees to collaborate with one another; trains teachers and staff of youth agencies to become comfortable with technology and to implement our programs; and develops web-based applications that allow other agencies to run their own email mentoring programs.
I can speak from my personal experience about the impact that iMentor makes on the lives of inner city youth here in New York City. In 2000 - 2001 school year, I was mentored through this program. My mentor was that additional support I needed to accomplish goals like applying to college and preparing for an internship interview my senior year. She is still involved in my life. Six years later, I am proudly volunteering with iMentor as a mentor, and the experience has truly been rewarding. I can't begin to say how amazing it's been to just be there for someone in the same way someone was there for me during high school. I would reccommend this volunteer opportunity to anyone who is looking to make a tangible difference in the life of a young person, but also feels the demands of work/school/family. iMentor makes it easier for the busy professional to volunteer by doing all the work for you. The meeting schedule, ideas for email interaction, etc. is all done for you. All you have to do is show up, be yourself, and keep in touch with your mentee. And in just a few emails, you will feel that connection with your mentee, and you will see what I'm talking about!