Bridging the 15 Million Person Mentoring Gap

Bridging the 15 Million Person Mentoring Gap

Caroline Kim Oh (iMentor, USA) and Theresa Stroisch (iMentor, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-456-7.ch707


This chapter introduces the history and evolution of iMentor, a NYC-based youth mentoring organization that pioneered the use of guided e-mail communication to enhance the in-person youth mentoring model, and continues to leverage its model and lessons learned to help other groups improve or start up their own mentoring programs. It illustrates how the organization has effectively used technology to add flexibility and structure in its NYC Mentoring Program, engaging a new “class” of program participants: “busy” professionals as mentors and mentees from some of the most economically and geographically isolated communities. It also describes how the organization transformed itself to meet a national demand for its programming by developing and licensing its own mentoring technology platform, iMentor Interactive. The author hopes that by reviewing the experience of iMentor, more mentoring and youth organizations at- large would embrace a thoughtful infusion of technology to positively impact the lives of people they serve. The author, however, strongly believes that the sector must be diligent about adhering to many of the best practices of a good, in-person mentoring program, including screening and monitoring of program participants, providing structure and ongoing assistance.
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Case Description

Founded in 1999, iMentor developed a new kind of mentoring model, combining mentoring best practices and technology to add flexibility and structure to mentoring relationships. This model allows iMentor to engage a new class of mentors and bring mentoring to the young people who need mentoring the most: those living in isolated, socio-economically underserved communities. iMentor runs two signature programs: a direct-service one-to-one mentoring program in New York City (iMentor NYC) and a national technical assistance program, iMentor Interactive (iMi.)

iMentor's two programs empower each other, providing mutual benefits: 1) iMentor NYC is the laboratory of best practices, as iMentor continues to innovate 2) iMi facilitates the expansion of quality mentoring programs nationally. iMentor continues to deepen its program offerings, develop new curricula and create new support structures in NYC. The best of these practices and resources (after being proven effective in post program evaluations) are built into the iMi platform and become available for member organizations. Together, two programs are beginning to close the mentoring gap.

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