Education and Academic Support! / College Readiness and Retention


iMentor is a national mentoring organization that partners with high schools in low-income communities, serving mostly prospective first-generation college students. The organization pairs students with a college-educated, trained mentor who commits to a single student for a minimum of three years, with the option to extend their match through college completion. In New York City alone, iMentor is operating in 15 schools, reaching about 4,000 students during the 2016 to 2017 academic year.

From 2013 through 2015, the foundation supported iMentor in implementing the Texts for College Success Campaign, a text message campaign to counteract the phenomenon of “summer melt,” in which students change their college plans over the summer due to logistical, financial or personal issues. “Summer melt” affects up to 40 percent of low-income and first-generation college-bound students.

In 2016, the foundation funded two key initiatives: the continued refinement of the 12th-grade curriculum, with an emphasis on clarifying and strengthening the role of the mentor in the college process and laying a strong foundation for when mentees matriculate at college; and the development of new technology platform tools and features to better support pairs in the transition to college and improve how the organization administers, tracks and, manages program outcomes related to college success.

In the summer of 2016, iMentor was awarded a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which will support the national relaunch of the college years program, including program model redesign and scale-up of college years staffing. The foundation’s 2016 grant complements this work, creating a stronger and more deliberate bridge between 12th grade and the college program, and supporting technological platform enhancements that will better engage students throughout the college application/matriculation process.

New integrated technology solutions will support the college application process, while enhanced communications and consolidated college-enrollment resources will offer pairs an improved experience and greater accountability for meeting college application milestones. Through these enhancements, iMentor program managers will also have a better understanding of pairs’ progress through the college application and matriculation process so they will be positioned to provide timely, proactive support.