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A student and her mentor pose for a photograph in celebration of the student's college graduation.

iMentor Supports College Success through Mentorship

Project Overview

iMentor partners with schools in low-income communities to pair each student with a volunteer, college-educated professional who serves as a mentor along the postsecondary journey. The mentor commitment begins in high school with at least three years of support, but most mentor-mentee pairs continue their relationship during college – often all the way through graduation.

The organization is betting big on the power of relationships to change lives and create opportunity. Through weekly touchpoints, monthly meetings, and connections through its proprietary app, mentors and mentees build a strong bond that supports the student’s progress toward their higher education goals.

iMentor is an opportunity to have a commitment with one student at a moment in their lives where they probably need the help and advice the most.  

Rema, Mentor, iMentor

How it Helps 

Nearly 70% of iMentor students will be the first in their families to graduate from college. For many first-generation students, that means they will be largely navigating the process on their own, from the complexities of financial aid to the jargon of academia. Through iMentor, a trusted mentor is there to provide practical and emotional support every step of the way, from choosing a college or career pathway to navigating applications, acceptance letters and resume building, to obtaining a college degree or job placement. 

Coaching is rooted in a deep understanding of each student’s aspirations and the unique challenges they may be facing. Mentors are equipped with research-based postsecondary success curriculum to help mentees overcome obstacles. Providing additional support and resources, iMentor staff are assigned as case managers for mentoring pairs, and programming is tailored through each year of college or along the career pathway to support ongoing engagement and persistence. 

iMentor serves more than 10,000 students through direct-service programs in New York City, Chicago, the Bay Area and Baltimore, and through partnerships with local nonprofit organizations that implement the iMentor model in 51 schools. iMentor students continue to enroll in college at a rate higher than national averages from before the pandemic. The program’s three-year average immediate college enrollment rate is 73%, compared to 55% of similar students nationally in 2019, and 47% of iMentor students complete college at more than twice the national graduation rate of their peers. 

Beyond the Classroom  

Most students face non-academic obstacles that can negatively impact their postsecondary experience, such as balancing family and work commitments outside of school, navigating financial aid, and managing stress during this major life transition.

Navigating the postsecondary journey isn’t always a straight line, and degree-pursuing students may leave college along the way to return later. For example, a student may take leave for a semester to save up money or address their mental health. New iMentor programming is designed to serve each of these students’ journeys so they can navigate the path that will best position them for success. This includes weekly workshops and advising sessions during the summer, a robust campaign to combat summer melt, and year-round curriculum to nurture the mentor-mentee relationships at the heart of this work.

Financial emergencies can have a big impact on a student’s progress through college. When the car breaks down or the bill arrives from the emergency room, students may find themselves scrambling to make ends meet, but a small stipend can help them manage the expense and keep college plans on track. As part of its expanded postsecondary programming, iMentor is also delivering emergency funds.

By offering additional postsecondary support, the program will double the number of students served and ensure they have the support needed to persist to a degree.

Meet Sultana & Rema 

Sultana met her mentor Rema when she was a freshman in high school. She was 14 years old, watching her sister enroll at a nearby public college and beginning to dream of her own path after high school.  But as a first-generation college student, Sultana wasn’t sure how to access or navigate the options available to her. 

With Rema’s encouragement, she applied and was accepted to her “dream school.” College wasn’t always easy, but she persisted in her studies and is now a college graduate embarking on a career in environmental science. And Rema has been there to support her every step of the way. 

Foundation Project Lead