K-12 Program


Academy for Software Engineering

40 Irving Pl

New York, NY 10003


produced by


40 Irving Pl

New York, NY 10003

Career Skills

iMentor’s iMentor is a profiled program in the Plugging In Report.

View Report

Who is served: Students attending high schools in underserved communities where a majority of students would be first-generation college students

Number of Participants: 3,563 mentor-mentee pairs

Location: In school: Marble Hill School for International Studies; Bronx Academy for Software Engineering; Bronx High School for Law and Community Service; Comp Sci High; Bronx Leadership Academy II; The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology; Frederick Douglas Academy II; Business of Sports School; Academy for Software Engineering; Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women; Lyons Community High School at Lafayette; High School for Service and Learning; International High School at Lafayette.

Frequency/Duration: 1 class per week; 1 meeting per month; weekly online check-in; 3 to 4 years in total. 

Eligibility Criteria: Mentors must commit to helping a high school student get into college; connecting online with mentee once a week; and meeting in person once a month. The organization focuses on schools in low-income, racially diverse communities.  

Curriculum: The weekly class that participants take combines social-emotional skills with college preparation. Skills taught include growth mindset, setting goals, and building relationships. 

Outcomes: Compared with non-partner DOE schools with similar demographics, iMentor partner schools have a 20 percent higher college attendance rate, and mentees are 25 percent more persistent than non-mentees after 1 year of participation. Among New York City participants who go on to college, 2/3rds  go to CUNY schools, and most others go to SUNY schools. 

Partnerships: Big Brothers Big Sisters, partner high schools, corporate partners who provide mentors (Citi Foundation, Morgan Stanley, PWC, AT&T Foundation, BlackRock, AlphaSights Barclays, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Allen & Company, Capital One, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, DTCC, Equinix, Ernst & Young, EXL Service, First Eagle Investment Management, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Macy’s, The Nielsen Foundation, UBS)

Cost: Free

Sources of funding: Private (and through schools paying for service)

What makes the program stand out? Other organizations might support years-long relationships between mentors and mentees, but iMentor stands out for also embedding in schools and guiding mentees on a regular basis, whether they need help applying for and financing college or want internship experience in the tech industry. 

When iMentor partners with a high school, every student in that school gets a mentor. There are 2 models: beginning in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade, or starting in 11th grade and lasting through the first post-secondary year. iMentor also places a full-time program manager in each school to teach a weekly class, supervise monthly mentor-mentee events, and provide general and college counseling. 

An algorithm matches mentors and mentees, based on an application that asks what they both want from the relationship; but the school program manager makes the final decision. Matching is driven primarily by the student’s interests and preferences. In most cases, if a student desires a mentor who works in tech, that can be accommodated. iMentor has brought on mentors from Google and various startups, according to the New York office’s executive director, Max Polaner. 


What do participants need to succeed? iMentor has learned that, when it comes to mentoring, “the more structure you provide, the better it works,” said Polaner. iMentor provides content for mentors to draw from during monthly in-person meetings and weekly online check-ins with mentees. Mentors are also provided with resources to help them understand the city’s post-secondary landscape, and build relationships with students across different backgrounds. Nationwide, 42 percent of the organization’s mentors identify as people of color and 28 percent are first-generation college students, compared with 94 and 65 percent of student mentees, respectively. 

Next year, iMentor will begin offering students more in-person college advising sessions, as well as additional summer workshops and trainings for mentors and mentees around relationship building and the path to college.

What does the organization need? While iMentor is the second largest mentoring organization in New York City after Big Brothers Big Sisters (an iMentor partner in other cities and states), Polaner sees room to grow. Financial obstacles stand in the way; partner schools pay a portion of the program’s $1,200-per-student annual cost. iMentor raises the remainder of funding and would like to see more support from the city. “When you realize that so many of our students are [attending] CUNY and SUNY, there’s another city and state interest in supporting programs like ours that increase matriculation and ultimately send students back to the workforce,” Polaner said.