NBA Foundation: Students have the help they need with iMentor

The NBA Foundation chose iMentor as one of its grant recipients.

The journey from high school to college to the work force is full of unexpected twists and turns. With the help of iMentor, students and young adults no longer have to navigate those tricky roads alone.

iMentor is a national non-profit organization that connects and empowers young people through mentors. iMentor matches every student in a partnered school with a mentor. The program starts when the student is in 11th grade and continues for two years after high school graduation.

The NBA Foundation, the league’s first-ever charitable foundation dedicated to driving economic opportunity for Black youth, chose iMentor as one of its grant recipients.

“Our goal is to build mentoring relationships that empower first generation college students to pursue the college of their dreams,” said iMentor chief external officer Celine Patel. “We actually have a program manager who is a non-staff member who is in the school who teaches about careers, financial literacy, resume building, everything we know that a student needs to pursue a meaningful career which is our end goal. What’s powerful about that is they are learning in the classroom and they are really learning in action with their mentor.”

Students in the iMentor program — one of the NBA Foundation’s grant recipients — attend a Chicago Bulls game.

The students meet with their mentors every week online and once a month in person. The student and mentor can continue their relationship if they want through college graduation.

“We know mentors can open doors for young people with their expertise, knowledge and guidance,” said Katie Longofono, the associate director, national development for iMentor. “Mentors are the cheerleader and there to champion for the students.”

iMentor, which first opened its doors in 1999, has matched over 38,000 students around the country with Mentors. iMentor serves students in Baltimore, the Bay Area, Chicago and New York.

Thanks to the partnership with the NBA Foundation, iMentor has been able to launch numerous new initiatives.

“It has been such an awesome partnership with the NBA Foundation,” Longofono said. “We built our partnership with the NBA at a time we were thinking carefully about how to help students think more about their careers. We have been realizing over the past couple of years that you have to twin college and career. You can help a person get to college but then they may not know what they want to do. Or, they might not know what a meaningful career looks like and how their education can connect directly to their career. The NBA is supporting a lot of our workshops on doing an interview, writing a resume, updating your LinkedIn, building your personal brand and applying for jobs.”

High school, college and choosing a career are all huge milestones and transition points in a student’s life. iMentor is there to make a difference.

“We are proud to support iMentor’s work in building powerful mentorship relationships for Black youth across the country,” said NBA Foundation Executive Director Greg Taylor. “The effectiveness of iMentor’s model of giving young people the tools to enroll and succeed in college is inspiring and we look forward to the expansion of their work.”

Click here to learn more about iMentor and volunteer.

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