iMentor - 25 Years of Mentoring Moments

ANNUAL REPORT 2022-23

Building impactful relationships

for 25 years

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Letter from our CEO

As iMentor celebrates its 25th anniversary, I am proud of the accomplishments that our students, mentors, partners, and staff have achieved together. We’ve watched excitedly as 42,000+ students met their mentors for the very first time. We’ve seen pair relationships grow and flourish. We’ve cheered at hundreds of high school graduations as our students walked confidently to receive their diplomas and head off to college. These moments of connection are what drives us forward.

At iMentor, mentoring is not just about getting a student into college – it’s about building strong, trusting relationships between a mentor and a student. It’s about a mentor truly hearing the student, seeing them for who they are, and helping them create a path to a future they may not have seen for themselves.

That’s the magic of mentoring.

I am thrilled to showcase the strides iMentor has made in becoming a premier mentoring organization that supports students as they attain their goals. Over the past year, 92% of mentees were accepted into college and intend to enroll, which is indicative of iMentor’s commitment to removing barriers that first-generation students face in accessing college.

As a result of constantly improving our curriculum and focusing on career-connected exposures, 81% of mentees say they learned about new post-secondary pathways through their mentors or iMentor programming. By opening minds and unlocking doors to such possibilities, we ensure that our students can thrive and lead choice-filled lives.

As an organization whose student body is 98% people of color, we recognize the power that having a mentor with a shared identity can have on young people’s relationships and how they navigate the world. We are proud of the fact that our mentor population has grown to 51% people of color to more accurately reflect the students that we serve and instill the “see it to be it” mentality that will take them to unbelievable new heights.

The future holds even more mentoring moments – first pair meetings, more college graduations, and more career launchpads. iMentor is building on the meaningful work we have achieved at the high school level to boost the impact of higher education, particularly on first-generation students.

Reaching 25 years is an incredible milestone – but we are only getting started. I am inspired for us to continue this journey together. Whether you are a mentor, a supporter, or a partner, your commitment is essential to helping us forge this exciting new path forward. Thank you for being a part of iMentor.

Dr. Heather D. Wathington
CEO, iMentor

As iMentor celebrates its 25th anniversary, I am proud of the accomplishments that our students, mentors, partners, and staff have achieved together. We’ve watched excitedly as 42,000+ students met their mentors for the very first time. We’ve seen pair relationships grow and flourish. We’ve cheered at hundreds of high school graduations as our students walked confidently to receive their diplomas and head off to college. These moments of connection are what drives us forward.

At iMentor, mentoring is not just about getting a student into college – it’s about building strong, trusting relationships between a mentor and a student. It’s about a mentor truly hearing the student, seeing them for who they are, and helping them create a path to a future they may not have seen for themselves.

That’s the magic of mentoring.

I am thrilled to showcase the strides iMentor has made in becoming a premier mentoring organization that supports students as they attain their goals. Over the past year, 92% of mentees were accepted into college and intend to enroll, which is indicative of iMentor’s commitment to removing barriers that first-generation students face in accessing college.

As a result of constantly improving our curriculum and focusing on career-connected exposures, 81% of mentees say they learned about new post-secondary pathways through their mentors or iMentor programming. By opening minds and unlocking doors to such possibilities, we ensure that our students can thrive and lead choice-filled lives.

As an organization whose student body is 98% people of color, we recognize the power that having a mentor with a shared identity can have on young people’s relationships and how they navigate the world. We are proud of the fact that our mentor population has grown to 51% people of color to more accurately reflect the students that we serve and instill the “see it to be it” mentality that will take them to unbelievable new heights.

The future holds even more mentoring moments – first pair meetings, more college graduations, and more career launchpads. iMentor is building on the meaningful work we have achieved at the high school level to boost the impact of higher education, particularly on first-generation students.

Reaching 25 years is an incredible milestone – but we are only getting started. I am inspired for us to continue this journey together. Whether you are a mentor, a supporter, or a partner, your commitment is essential to helping us forge this exciting new path forward. Thank you for being a part of iMentor.

Dr. Heather D. Wathington
CEO, iMentor

The Need

Nationally, the average ratio of students to high school guidance counselors is 1:450. That is an average of two hours of support per student per year. For first-generation college students who may not have another adult to help them make a post-secondary plan, two hours is not enough.

This results in an opportunity gap – an inequitable distribution of resources.

68% of iMentor students would be the first in their family to graduate from college

OUR RESPONSE

Every student deserves a champion to provide support and coaching towards their goals. At iMentor, we work to ensure that every student in our program is paired one-on-one with a volunteer mentor who can help them access opportunities and fulfill their highest dreams and ambitions.

Students who have a mentor are more likely to graduate from high school and apply to college.

A bachelor’s degree increases a person’s lifetime earnings by 75% compared to a high school diploma

Our Program

We pair high school students with a volunteer mentor to build a strong, trusting relationship that enables them to unlock potential and open doors to the future. College-bound mentees are invited to grow their relationship with their mentors into college, receiving proactive outreach and personalized support to help them persist.

To reach young people everywhere, we also partner with local nonprofits to implement our mentorship model in their own communities.

3,799 pairs served across all regions and partner programs in 2022-23

Where We Work

iMentor operates direct service sites and collaborates with partner programs. Explore the map to see our impact across the country.

iMentor cities

iMentor partner programs

Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Illinois

1 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Cumberland & Salem Counties

2 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region

3 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star – Houston

4 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters New Hampshire

5 of 17

Student Sponsor Partners

6 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Central New Mexico

7 of 17
Big Brothers Big Sisters Greater Pittsburgh 8 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star – Greater Dallas

9 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star – Tarrant County

10 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Arizona

11 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Utah

12 of 17

Big Brothers Big Sisters Eastern Massachussetts

13 of 17

Unity High School (Oakland, CA)

14 of 17
“My mentor always makes sure to stay in communication with me every week and does her best to attend the iMentor pair events each month. Carla checks up on me when she knows I’m having a hard time with something and does her best to come up with solutions on how to help me.”
 
— Ariana, iMentor Chicago Pomona College 15 of 17
“[My mentor Ekta] is basically why I’m in college. She’s like a guardian angel. She motivated me into taking a further step when I wasn’t even thinking about college.”
  
— Jamila
iMentor NYC
Baruch College 16 of 17
“I see our relationship [with mentor Will] growing and becoming stronger than it was close to three years ago. I see myself mentally maturing into an adult and him giving me the materials to build my foundation.”
 
— Cameron, iMentor Baltimore Coppin State University 17 of 17
Map of Our Partners
“My mentor always makes sure to stay in communication with me every week and does her best to attend the iMentor pair events each month. Carla checks up on me when she knows I’m having a hard time with something and does her best to come up with solutions on how to help me.”
 
— Ariana, iMentor Chicago Pomona College 1 of 3
“[My mentor Ekta] is basically why I’m in college. She’s like a guardian angel. She motivated me into taking a further step when I wasn’t even thinking about college.”
  
— Jamila
iMentor NYC
Baruch College 2 of 3
“I see our relationship [with mentor Will] growing and becoming stronger than it was close to three years ago. I see myself mentally maturing into an adult and him giving me the materials to build my foundation.”
 
— Cameron, iMentor Baltimore Coppin State University 3 of 3

Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Illinois (Decatur, IL)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Cumberland & Salem Counties (Vineland, NJ)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region (Philadelphia, PA)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star – Houston (Houston, TX)

Big Brothers Big Sisters New Hampshire (Manchester, NH)

Student Sponsor Partners (New York, NY)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Central New Mexico (Alberquerque, MN)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Greater Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star – Greater Dallas (Dallas, TX)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star – Tarrant County (Arlington, TX)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Arizona (Tuscon, AZ)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Utah (Salt Lake City, UT)

Big Brothers Big Sisters Eastern Massachussetts (Boston, MA)

Unity High School (Oakland, CA)

Our Partners

volunteer hours from partners’ employees
0
career exposure events in all regions
0 +

Our Partners

PwC CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, INC.

In 2023, the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. awarded a $2M grant to iMentor to help implement innovative new curriculum on career exploration and social capital skill-building. This grant enables iMentor to expand our impact by developing students’ proficiency in career development and helping to build their professional and networking skills during high school with the goal of increasing social mobility.
“The Foundation is thrilled to support iMentor’s work. iMentor has an established track record of increasing social mobility and preparing students for success in their post-secondary plans and empowering high school students on their career pathways. This work aligns with the PwC Charitable Foundation’s commitment to closing opportunity gaps, including through the Access Your Potential program – PwC’s $125 million investment to support 25,000 Black and Latino/Hispanic college students by FY26,” says Michael Sutphin, President of the Foundation. “It’s especially rewarding to know that our grant funds are complemented by the engagement of 150+ PwC partners and employees who actively serve as program mentors, including PwC partners Dean Ahmad and Alicia Hidalgo who currently serve on Regional iMentor Advisory Boards in New York and Chicago, respectively. We look forward to working together to make a lasting impact in our communities.”With the work funded by this grant, iMentor reinforces its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by training mentors to provide effective support to students through an equity lens. The PwC Charitable Foundation and iMentor aim to generate valuable insights and scalable practices, helping to create more opportunities that can benefit the broader community.

Bloomberg LP

Bloomberg LP has partnered with iMentor since 2009, and since then has enlisted over 240 employees as volunteer mentors for high schoolers. Several employees also serve in leadership positions on iMentor’s advisory board and act as ambassadors dedicated to sharing their experiences to encourage others to volunteer as well.
Bloomberg LP is a leading sponsor of iMentor’s Mentor Education program, which launched in 2020; the program provides anti-racism training so that the mentor community is equipped to support mentees with sensitivity and a social justice lens.“Mentoring is a powerful way to make a difference in a young person’s life by building valuable relationships and opening doors,” said Nancy Cutler, Bloomberg’s Head of Corporate Philanthropy for the US, Canada and Latin America. “Since 2009, Bloomberg and iMentor have shared a common goal of strengthening communities and expanding opportunities for success through service. Bloomberg has been proud to host career workshops and serve as founding partner for iMentor’s national mentor training to combat racism in addition to our employees providing nearly 10,000 mentor hours to support the next generation of great leaders.”

Our Impact

College & Career Planning

Mentors and mentees dedicate significant time to making post-secondary plans, including researching colleges, attending events on campus, and visiting workplaces to learn about career options.
of mentees learned about a new post-secondary pathway
0 %
of mentees learned how to set and work towards career goals
0 %
of mentees have the skills and mindset to successfully select a post- secondary path
0 %
say their mentor played a significant role in choosing the best post-secondary option for themselves
0 %

Long-Term Outcomes

iMentor’s outcomes in college persistence and graduation demonstrate our impact on supporting students to earn a degree, achieve economic mobility, and lead choice-filled lives.
Of mentees graduate within six years after college enrollment*
0 %
OF MENTEES RECEIVE SUPPORT IN iMENTOR’S POST-SECONDARY PROGRAM
0 %
Of mentees enroll in 4-year colleges
0 %
of mentees were accepted into college and intend to enroll
0 %

*Compared to 33% of first-generation college students nationwide

Strength of Relationships

Mentorships have the power to transform lives. Our pairs build relationships by listening, coaching, and exploring options for the future.
Of mentors say their mentee adds value to their life
0 %
Of mentees say their mentor is a good match
0 %
Of mentees trust their mentor
0 %
Of mentors say their relationship with their mentee is important to them
0 %

Our Leaders

Board of Directors

Mark Bezos

Highpost Capital

Richard Buery, Jr.

Robin Hood Foundation

Alex Ehrlich

Percapita Group

Lawrence Griff

Grant Thornton LLP

John A. Griffin

Blue Ridge Capital

Kimberley Hatchett

Morgan Stanley

Josh Hill

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison LLP

Robert Ivry

Former MDRC Executive and Non-Profit Consultant

Madifing Kaba

Broadwalk

Matthew Klein

Robin Hood Foundation

Karen Pavlin

Servicenow

David Saltzman

Atria Institute

Executive Leadership Team

Michelle Diaz

Chief Talent & Equity Officer

Jeanette Duffy

Chief Impact Officer

Maisha Leek

Chief Operating Officer

Nina Longino

Executive Director, Chicago

Scott Millstein

Executive Director, NYC

Brenan Smith-Evans

Chief of Staff

Dr. Heather D. Wathington

Chief Executive Officer

Samuel Wilder

Vice President of Finance & Administration

Sidney Wilson

Executive Director, Baltimore

Regional Advisory Boards

New York City

Dean Ahmad

PwC

Anita Bafna

EY

Rich Bello

Arootah | Blue Ridge Capital

Sahra Dalfen

Former Partner, Reed Smith LLP

Joyee Deb

NYU

Beth Hoerle

MUFG

Natasha Holiday

RBC Capital Markets

Jerome Joseph

Salesforce

Yohan Kim

RFA

Christopher McKelvy

K. Ventures

Gordon McKemie

Blackstone

Rusik Mundhe

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Susan Reid

Morgan Stanley

Lisa Shalett

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management

Erik Siegel

Moore Capital Management

Dr. La Toro Yates, Ph.D.

CUNY Hostos Community College

Chicago

Deborah Avalos

Northwestern Medicine

Julia Bristow Briggs

Smart to the Top

Abhinav Gupta

TransUnion

Alicia Hidalgo

PwC

Oladoyin Oladeru

Google

Amit Punwani

Adobe

Sean Ramsey

Grainger

Harriet Seitler

Course Hero

Amy E. Szostak

Northern Trust

Britt Trukenbrod

William Blair & Co.

Baltimore

Sherrice Davis

M&T Bank

Audrey Johnson

State of Maryland

Karen King-Sheridan

Baltimore City Community College

Anne Land

Morgan Stanley

Austin Merritt

Vice President Community Development Officer

Kendra Parlock

NPower

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

SRB & Associates

Stacey Ullrich

BGE

Our Supporters

$1,000,000+

Ballmer Group*
Bezos Family Foundation*
Citi Foundation*
John and Amy Griffin*
Morgan Stanley Foundation*
PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc.*
Skyline Foundation
Zell Family Foundation*

$500,000 - $999,999

Anonymous
Mark and Liza Bezos*
Bloomberg LP*
ECMC Foundation*
Bianca and Noam Gottesman
The Moriah Fund*
NBA Foundation*
Arthur Rock and Toni Rembe

$100,000 - $499,999

AlphaSights
AlT Man Foundation*
A Better Chicago and McCormick Foundation
Booth Ferris Foundation
Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation
Alexander and Cheryl Ehrlich*
Ernst & Young LP
Finnegan Family Foundation*
Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation*
Hunter Family Foundation
J&K Wonderland Foundation
Joseph Pedott Charitable Foundation
Gaurav and Sonia Kapadia
John and Joella Lykouretzos*
RBC Capital Markets*
Robertson Foundation
Robin Hood Foundation
Solon Summerfield Foundation*
Paul and Sonia Tudor Jones
William Blair & Company LLC

$50,000 - $99,999

Anonymous
Barclays Capital
Richard Bello
Bloomberg Philanthropies
Capital One
Annie E. Casey
CME Group Foundation*
Crown Family Philanthropies
Gray Foundation
JP Morgan Chase
MUFG
Schultz Family Foundation
Erik and Gabriella Siegel

$25,000 - $49,999

Clayton Baker Trust
Sahra Dalfen
Joyee Deb
Deutsche Bank
Stanley and Fiona Druckenmiller
David Einhorn
FactSet
First Eagle InvesT Ment Management
Rich Gerson and Ashley Stetts
Goldman Sachs
David and Sloan Greenspan
Lawrence and Christine Griff*
Kimberley Hatchett and Tracy Maitland*
IBISWorld, Inc.
IPSOS
Kingdom Charitable Trust
Atte Lahtiranta
The Margaret and Daniel Loeb Foundation
Gordon McKemie
Ian and Sonnet McKinnon
Melissa and Matthew McQueen
Rusik Mundhe
Northern Trust
Omnicom Media Group
Pzena InvesT Ment Management
Curtis and Carolyn Schenker
Lisa Shalett and Rhonda Kaufman
Reed Smith
UBS InvesT Ment Bank
Ulta Beauty
W.W. Grainger, Inc.
Tiger and Caroline Williams

$10,000 - $24,999

AEGON Transamerica
AlphaShark Trading
Jonathan and Michelle Auerbach
Anita Bafna
Charleys Kids Foundation
Chicago White Sox Community Fund
CompTIA
Glenn and Eva Dubin
Fordham Street Foundation
Full Circle Foundation
Abby Hanson
Alicia Hidalgo
HSBC
IMC Financial Markets
John and Kim Kirtley
James Kochalka and Bonnie Liedman
KPMG
Mackay Shields
Tony and Shelly Malkin
Mizuho Financial Group
Neuberger Berman
Northwestern Medicine
The Osa Foundation
Shawn Pattison
Patricia and Joel Romines
Salesforce
Aneesh Saripalli
Britt Trukenbrod
Venable LLP

$2,500 - $9,999

Amy Szostak
Anonymous
Diana Arzoomanian
Dean and Anna Backer
Henrietta Baxter
Julia Bristow Briggs
Steve Bruce
Frank Byrd
Karen and Alvin Chopra
Cigna
Romy and David Coquillette
Sean and Malia Corrigan
David Doran
Griff Fairbairn
Nancy and Alan Feldman
Google
Jon Gray
Josh Hill and Melissa Murray
Natasha and Aaron Holiday
Honey Butter Fried Chicken
Sheryl Jacobson
Ford Kerr
Matthew and Alyssa Klein*
Haemi Lim
Flynn McRoberts
The Olive Tree Foundation
PJT Partners
Nick Priola
Sean Ramsey
Sherman Reid
Jessica Rosner
David Saltzman and Elizabeth Doyle*
Corilyn Shropshire and Kai Medville
Salam Turki
Thomas Wilson Foundation
Tradeweb
Trimble Family Foundation
Zynga

Our Financials

Public Support & Revenue (2023)
Foundation $5,046,147
Corporate $4,410,135
Board $2,799,437
Individual $2,379,266
Government $25,000
Strategic Capital Revenue & Utilization $5,851,924
Other Income $63,014
School, District, & Partner Fees $1,697,226
Total Public Support & Revenue $22,272,149
Expenses (2023)
Program $16,988,732
Non-Program $5,283,417
Total Expenses $22,272,149

Join Us

We believe in the power of mentorship. Over the next ten years we aim to ensure all first-generation college students have a mentor to support them. Join us today and make more mentoring moments happen!
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Our Students

Melissa + Stephanie​

Melissa and Stephanie from NYC are one of the many close-knit mentorships that iMentor has fostered throughout its 25 years. Melissa met Stephanie in 2012 as a shy and quiet high school junior. Even so, it didn’t take long for her to warm up to her mentor. “She was so welcoming and inviting,” Melissa says. “At one point we stopped talking about the [assignment] and she started talking about what we can do to help me.”

Melissa knew she had a special mentor when she felt comfortable enough to reach out to her after their formal iMentor program had ended. In college, Melissa sought advice about transferring schools and relied on Stephanie’s guidance. Being able to offer that advice was a memorable moment for Stephanie because it demonstrated the strength of their relationship. “You hope that you’re building that connection. When you feel that you’re actually able to do that, it feels special,” she says.

As the years went on, Melissa and Stephanie’s relationship evolved from asking for advice to becoming peers. When Stephanie prepared to take a leave from her position in corporate social responsibility at EY, she immediately thought of Melissa to fill in on her team. Melissa felt apprehensive but gained confidence to take the role because of the confidence that Stephanie had in her. The position allowed her to expand her professional network to leverage for future roles. “I would have never known that this was a job unless someone was there to give me that opportunity,” Melissa says.

Melissa reflects on the value that having a mentor like Stephanie has had on her life. It has been over ten years since their first meeting, and she now feels more equipped to speak up and be a leader. She is glad she put in the effort to nurture her relationship with Stephanie.

“She’s a role model. She genuinely wants what is best for me,” Melissa says. “I’m very blessed that iMentor brought us together.”

Our Mentors

Gabby + Ashanty

Gabby describes herself as a person who is driven by relationships and forming connections with others. Upon hearing about iMentor through her employer Salesforce in New York, she was sold on the opportunity to work with high school students. Upon meeting her mentee Ashanty, Gabby took a “come as you are” approach to mentoring – meeting Ashanty where she was with her post-high school planning and finding out what motivates her.

“[It’s] almost like interviewing her about different things in her life, and then watching the glow on her face – people have never asked her these questions,” Gabby explains. “You watch the confidence illuminate in her eyes. I get to be that person she tells certain aspirations to.”

For Gabby, mentorship is a fundamental resource that everyone should have access to, especially young people who are transitioning into adulthood. A mentor is more than someone who shares advice about what direction a person should take. “Mentorship means the ability to trust and confide in someone who not only is a role model, but who has your best interest [in mind],” she says. “Coaching you, challenging you, and when times are tough, reminding you of who you are and what you’re made of.”

Gabby’s relationship with Ashanty has given her insight into the kind of impact she can have on a person’s life. She looks forward to their journey into Ashanty’s senior year and seeing her mentee grow. “Sometimes I find that I walk away from our conversations being so much more similar than we are different,” Gabby reflects. “Watching her feel proud of herself and excited for herself – it is a very rewarding feeling.”

Our Mentors

Adrian + Demonte

Adrian is a mentor from Chicago. When he was young, he knew that he wanted to attend college, but college was not the norm in his neighborhood. Living in a single-parent household, Adrian relied on his mother, friends, family, and high school teachers to provide extra guidance. He felt blessed to have the support of his mentors to give him the opportunity to graduate from college and continue to earn a master’s degree.

Adrian pays it forward with his own mentee Demonte, showing him how to embrace challenges and seek more for himself. “My mentors have been so impactful throughout my life. This is why I aspire to be a positive role model for someone like me in Chicago,” Adrian says. “I want to be instrumental to my mentee’s success.”

In addition to being a mentor, Adrian uses his other passions to raise awareness for iMentor’s mission. He ran the Paris Marathon as part of the iMentor Challenge, an annual fundraising campaign led by mentors. He exceeded his fundraising goal, thanks to the support of his community.

“I wanted to leverage a unique opportunity to support a nonprofit organization that I am passionate about and expand the visibility of the organization,” he remarks.

“iMentor believes that every student should have a mentor, regardless of background or post-secondary pathway, and I believe in the organization’s mission to close the opportunity gap and support thousands of first-generation, underrepresented students like me.”

Our Students

Nykia + Essence

Nykia and Essence are a mentoring pair from Baltimore who connected in 2021. Nykia always knew that she wanted to go to college, and she and her mentor Essence tackled the lengthy (and sometimes complicated) process together.

A crucial role that Essence played in their mentorship was to be a sounding board. She would listen to whatever was on Nykia’s mind – whether about school or her personal life – as a way to build the bond between them and offer advice when needed.

“She gave me a lot of advice of how college might go and how certain things might not go the way I want,” Nykia says. “I’m glad she’s a person in my life that I could count on and trust.”

Although Nykia was very proactive throughout the college process, there were still aspects of college life that she could not research on her own. She relied on Essence to talk through different factors, such as campus size, tuition costs, and personal experiences in college before making a decision. Most notably, the duo made a plan on how to cover the costs to Stevenson University by applying to scholarships and talking to the school and state aid. Nykia is now enrolled at Stevenson as a business administration major with a full ride!

The trust between Nykia and Essence flourishes as Nykia embarked on her freshman year of college. They both have high hopes for Nykia as she goes through her college journey.

“I got lucky. She’s a really great kid. She’s really driven, so that’ll help take her a long way,” Essence says. “I’m excited to see what her future holds.”

Our Students

Melissa + Stephanie

Melissa and Stephanie from NYC are one of the many close-knit mentorships that iMentor has fostered throughout its 25 years. Melissa met Stephanie in 2012 as a shy and quiet high school junior. Even so, it didn’t take long for her to warm up to her mentor. “She was so welcoming and inviting,” Melissa says. “At one point we stopped talking about the [assignment] and she started talking about what we can do to help me.”

Melissa knew she had a special mentor when she felt comfortable enough to reach out to her after their formal iMentor program had ended. In college, Melissa sought advice about transferring schools and relied on Stephanie’s guidance. Being able to offer that advice was a memorable moment for Stephanie because it demonstrated the strength of their relationship. “You hope that you’re building that connection. When you feel that you’re actually able to do that, it feels special,” she says.

As the years went on, Melissa and Stephanie’s relationship evolved from asking for advice to becoming peers. When Stephanie prepared to take a leave from her position in corporate social responsibility at EY, she immediately thought of Melissa to fill in on her team. Melissa felt apprehensive but gained confidence to take the role because of the confidence that Stephanie had in her. The position allowed her to expand her professional network to leverage for future roles. “I would have never known that this was a job unless someone was there to give me that opportunity,” Melissa says.

Melissa reflects on the value that having a mentor like Stephanie has had on her life. It has been over ten years since their first meeting, and she now feels more equipped to speak up and be a leader. She is glad she put in the effort to nurture her relationship with Stephanie.

“She’s a role model. She genuinely wants what is best for me,” Melissa says. “I’m very blessed that iMentor brought us together.”