One of New York City’s largest mentoring programs is calling upon male Bronxites to provide a helping hand.
Since 1999, iMentor has matched adult mentors with young high school students from underserved communities in the five boroughs. These students are enrolled in multi-year programs with one-on-one matches who have graduated college and are assisted with their education to lead them to higher education.
By 2011, more than 10,000 mentors have been matched with New York City high school students, and iMentor is looking to add to that already large number in the Brby the end of September.
According to Mike O’Brien, CEO of iMentor, all female Bronx students in the program have been matched already, but iMentor is seeking 250 male volunteers to sign up and make a difference in an aspiring student’s life.
“We try to make our way into new high schools every year, but if help is still needed, we continue to work with high schools that we have in the past,” O’Brien said. “We hope to bring in anywhere between three and four hundred volunteers to a school each year to support college efforts.”
This year in the borough, iMentor will be working with students at Bronx Preparatory on 3872 Third Avenue, The Bronx Academy of Letters on 339 Morris Avenue, and the Urban Assembly for Careers in Sports on 730 Concourse Village West.
O’Brien said that the mentoring programs are set to begin the first week of October and will last throughout the entire school year. Relationships are built between mentors and mentees via weekly e-mail exchange and once a month visits that can occur at the schools or anywhere in the city.
Mentors are required to be college graduates, over 21 years old, must live or work in the New York City area, and must be able to commit one to four years of serving as a mentor to a college-ready student.
“New York is the greatest concentration of talent among young learners, but too often, little things such as lack of interaction with mentors has a negative impact,” O’Brien said. “One thing that we know for sure is that the spark of a mentor makes a huge difference in a high school student’s life. We want to meet the demand of those who want to help, and those who need help.”
iMentor began 12 years ago with 49 students in a single Bronx classroom and although it’s wonderful to see the expansion that has occurred over a decade later, O’Brien said it’s never enough.
Every year at the end of May, all mentors and students are invited for an end of the year celebration at a selected location in Brooklyn. To become a mentor this school year, visit www.iMentor.org.