Posted on January 20, 2004
Caroline Kim Oh,
150 Court Street
PND NPO Spotlight (01/20/04) -- iMentor
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 and civil rights attorneys Rich Buery and Matt Klein. The founders recognized that many busy professionals were interested in becoming mentors but hesitated to sign up for traditional programs because they lacked the time. To address a shortage of youth mentors, iMentor developed a program that allows mentors to work with kids via e-mail. The organization also provides technology training and support in classrooms and youth agencies. Since its inception, the group has provided mentors to more than 1,600 students from thirty schools and community centers in New York City.
The organization partners with schools, after-school programs, community technology centers, and youth development agencies that serve young people from low-income neighborhoods. These groups recruit youth to participate in the program, while iMentor recruits and screens the volunteer mentors. Students and mentors are matched one-on-one according to their shared interests. For at least one year, mentor and mentee use e-mail to work together on a variety of projects, including career exploration activities. They can also arrange to meet in person or at a group event sponsored by iMentor.
iMentor recently introduced a book club for mentors and students. Participating mentors will read the same books that their students read in class this spring: Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Honky. The mentors will supplement the classroom learning experience with online discussions of the texts, writing exercises, and other creative projects inspired by the literature.
The iMentor Web site provides an overview of the organization, including its history and vision. It also explains how people can get involved as a mentor, student, school, or youth agency.
Individuals, corporations, and foundations provide support for iMentor. Its Web site features information on becoming a corporate partner and a wish list of needed equipment.