Mentoring Youth in a Divided Nation – advice from Jean Rhodes

This week Jean Rhodes, a leading expert on youth mentoring, published an article on Mentoring Youth in a Divided Nation. Rhodes provides helpful insights to help mentors navigate difficult discussions:

If a mentee raises a topic in the news, the mentor should ask the young person what his/her opinion is on the issue and why. This helps the youth to clarify where s/he stands, what s/he understands about the topic or might still need to learn. Listening to the mentee’s views also sends a message that his/her opinions are worthy of respect, that adults should pay attention and take those ideas seriously.

Mentors should share their point of view as well. Regardless of whether they agree or disagree, as long as the exchange is respectful

Rhodes also provides a list of websites that are helpful for conversations around today’s topics:

  • Listenwise
  • Moving Stories
  • Learning Media
  • Kids Voting USA 

Read Jean Rhode’s full article on Mentoring Youth in a Divided Nation.

Using virtual mentors to expand offline networks and grow career aspirations

Julia Freeland at the Christensen Institute spoke with iCouldBe’s Executive Director Kate Schrauth about how technology can expand students’ networks.

Here’s an excerpt:

Julia:  In our research we’re focusing a lot on how relationships – or social capital – are critical levers for social mobility. Is iCouldBe’s model building students’ networks  both on and offline?

Kate: We do see that bear out. Within iCouldBe’s curriculum, mentees work on a number of activities that help them become aware of, and practice, networking skills. These activities have mentees practice these skills with teachers and other adults who can help them reach their educational and career goals. A thoughtful, goal-oriented and professional approach to networking skill-building helps mentees improve relationships and build social capital. In the most recent analysis of mentee pre-and post-surveys from the 2016-2017 academic year, mentees report that prior to the program 63% have natural mentors (in their offline lives) while after the program, that percentage grows to 81%.

iCouldBe was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss the positive outcomes of virtual mentoring with Julia Freeland at the Christensen Institute. Read the full article here.


iCouldBe Featured on American Graduate Day!

On Saturday October 14th iCouldBe was delighted to participate in American Graduate Day 2017!

Broadcast live from Tisch WNET Studios in NYC on public TV stations across the country, the 6th annual American Graduate Day examined the vital role mentorship plays in improving high school graduation rates, and explored diverse pathways to academic and career success and workforce development opportunities.

We invited Marisol, an iCouldBe mentee from 2016-2017, to visit New York City and participate in the American Graduate Day program and surprised her on live TV when her mentor Neal arrived to meet her in person for the first time.

iCouldBe Mentee Marisol arrived in New York City for the first time and headed to the WNET studio at Lincoln Center.

Marisol’s sister, teacher and the iCouldBe team watched from the viewing area.

During Marisol’s interview, her Mentor Neal Backsman, arrived to surprise her. Since iCouldBe connects mentees and mentors online, this was the very first time they met in person.

Marisol discussed how they focused on developing a roadmap for Marisol’s future education and career while they also developed a meaningful and trusting relationship.

Neal shared how much he had learned from Marisol throughout the mentoring program and shared his experience as an AT&T employee who has been supported and encouraged by his company to be a mentor to 6 mentees over the past four years! 

As they completed the iCouldBe activities, Marisol told Neal about her plans to get a Nursing Assistant certificate before she even graduated from high school, and her plans to apply to nursing school and her goal to travel the world. Neal  helped Marisol research a career as a traveling nurse and Marisol is now excited to pursue that as a potential career option.

Marisol and Neal had an incredible time with the welcoming and warm team at WNET.

A huge thank you to WNET, Neal and Marisol, for an amazing American Graduate Day experience with iCouldBe.

See the video here!

Click below to see iCouldBe mentee Marisol and mentor Neal on WNET’s American Graduate Day

Happy Holidays to Our Amazing icouldbe Community!

2013 has been a milestone year for icouldbe thanks to our many dedicated mentors and partners. As we head into 2014 we continue to grow the numbers of students served and we need your help to recruit and train mentors to support thousands of icouldbe students around the country.
Please Help icouldbe Support More Students in 2014!

Please include icouldbe in your year-end giving by DONATING now. Here’s how your tax-deductible contribution will make a lasting impact:

  • $30 enables icouldbe to recruit and train one new caring mentor
  • $150 enables icouldbe to recruit and train five new caring mentors
  • $300 supports an entire mentor and mentee relationship for the full academic year
Your gift will help us continue to provide at-risk teens with the e-mentoring guidance and support they need and deserve to graduate high school and pursue their post-secondary educational and career dreams. Thank you for your incredible support and generosity and we wish you a warm and wonderful holiday and New Year!

The icouldbe Team

icouldbe ThankYou

How can volunteering just a few minutes of your time make a change?

Finding the time to make a positive impact is easier than most people think. Since time is such a limited resource for a lot of working professionals, many ask: how can I find the time to volunteer and give back?

While many think volunteering requires large amounts of time, giving back & making an impact can be as simple and convenient as committing one hour per week. There are dozens of organizations geared towards those of us who have busy schedules, can’t take time off of work or who need the weekends to recharge after a long week. Living in an increasingly digital world, there are plenty of ways to get involved that can make a positive impact on individuals all around the globe.

  • Get Social for Social Change: Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest allow people to help out with a simple click of a mouse. By “liking” a nonprofit page on Facebook you can help publicize an organization’s mission, spreading the word to the hundreds of people who see your newsfeed each day. You can even tag organizations in your own posts with a personalized message to friends asking them to get involved.
  • Play to your Strengths: Websites like Volunteer Match, Catch-A-Fire and Sparked pair people with social organizations that match a user’s profile preferences. These resources make finding the perfect match easier than ever, eliminating the daunting process of wading through group after group as you try to find the association that’s right for you.
  • Make a Difference with Time Online: is always looking for new mentors on all career trajectories and all we ask for is one hour per week per mentee – a manageable time commitment for even the busiest professional. Plus, with our online platform you can help an at-risk student from anywhere in the US gain important academic skills and guide them towards a successful future.
  • Be an Engine of Change: Search engines like GoodSearch offer donations to your nonprofit or school of choice. Every time you search, a penny is put towards your cause. Think about how often you use Google every single day and it becomes clear just how quickly donations can add up.

These are just a few examples of how digital tools can bring about definite, quantifiable change in just a few minutes to an hour. By taking advantage of the various online options available today, all you need to do is choose which give-back method works best for you. Sometimes, all it takes is one click.

Photo Credit: John Ward on Flicker's Creative Commons
Photo Credit: John Ward on Flicker’s Creative Commons

A recap on last night’s #MentorNextGen Twitter chat

Thank you to everyone who joined us yesterday evening for #mentornextgen! Last night, icouldbe hosted a Twitter Chat with our new partner AT&T Aspire and we were thrilled by the participation.  We chatted about volunteering through your employer, what motivates you as a mentor, the benefits of online mentoring, what the future holds for the next generation’s workforce, and much more.

If you weren’t able to participate, but are interested in following the conversation, check out the Storify we created for last night’s chat – it is easy to follow and will give you a run down of the topics we discussed:

Have a response to one of the questions asked last night? You may have missed the live chat, but we’d still love to hear your stories, thoughts, and experiences with mentoring. Leave your answers in the comment section below. And we hope you’ll be able to join us for our next chat!

Please join us for an icouldbe Twitter Chat with AT&T Aspire

Please join the discussion for a Twitter Chat next week to celebrate National Mentoring Month! On Wednesday, January 30th at 8:00 p.m. EST, log on to Twitter, follow @icouldbeorg and jump in the conversation using the following hashtag:


Our co-host will be one of our newer partners, AT&T Aspire (follow them on Twitter at @ATTAspire). AT&T Aspire is a high school success and workforce readiness initiative that is one of the largest-ever corporate commitments dedicated to helping high school students succeed.

Several AT&T employees who are volunteering their time as mentors to hundreds of students around the country will also join the chat, sharing their thoughts and experiences.

The chat will last one hour, during which time we’ll cover topics including: corporate volunteerism and online mentoring, mentoring the next generation’s workforce, personal mentoring stories, and more.

It’s simple and easy to join, just:

  1. Mark your calendars for January 30th at 8:00 p.m. EST
  2. Log in to Twitter at the beginning of the chat and search for #MentorNextGen. This will keep you in the loop of what others are saying and what questions are being discussed.

If you have any questions about next week’s chat, don’t hesitate to contact us – leave a message in the comment section of this blog post or reach out to us on Twitter!

Thank Your Mentor Day: California Teacher Thanks icouldbe Mentors

On behalf of Hoover High School’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), I would like to wish all of the mentors in the icouldbe program a happy National Mentoring Month, and extend our thanks for all the time you put in helping our students. Our Academy has been part of the icouldbe program for over five years, and each year we have had 80-100 students participate in the program. As a College and Career Technical Educator, the icouldbe program has been instrumental in helping me to ensure that my students have a solid background in what it takes to choose, prepare for, and be successful in a career. The icouldbe curriculum has helped open doors for my students to view the larger world outside of their immediate community. The activities they complete have the greatest benefits in the areas of  communication, research, and planning.

Only a small percentage of my students are native English speakers. Most are currently English Learners, and many others are reclassified as English proficient. This makes communication, both verbal and written, a challenge. icouldbe offers these students a way to work on their language skills, especially learning to move from a casual language register to a more professional one. Likewise, students are able to improve both their academic and professional vocabulary which eventually helps them both in resume writing and in interviewing skills. The online and anonymous nature of the mentoring program helps these students to get comfortable quickly as they are less likely to feel they are being judged or put on the spot when they are not face to face with someone they do not know. This often helps the mentees build a better working relationship with their mentors more quickly.

Besides being non-native English speakers, the majority of my students are likely to be the first person in their families to go to college.  Having no experience in their families to draw on makes the varied experiences and stories of the mentors extremely valuable.  In addition, the goal setting activities, college research tools, and planning guides provided in the curriculum help to make the decision to go to college more real for the students.  Further, there are excellent tools for exploring and preparing for careers.  One of the beginning skills that the students often have not previously completed is resume writing.  They all start out with a very basic template to complete the exercise.  Over the course of the year, they take these barebones resumes and learn to add “power” words and language to them to make them better.  Many students begin to take up volunteer opportunities to add to the experience sections on their resumes as they learn how important this can be.

Mentors, although I know working online as opposed to working face to face has some distinct advantages, I also wish you could personally see the difference you make in many of these students’ lives.  You may not see it in their writing, but I have all the students complete an oral “exit interview” about their icouldbe experience.  The last question I ask each of them is what they would say to you if they met you face to face, and they invariably want to thank you for taking some time out of your lives to work with them.  I would like to thank you as well.

-Bryan Voeltner, Hoover High School in San Diego, California

Photo Credit: Ben Fredericson on Flickr's Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Ben Fredericson on Flickr’s Creative Commons

Bryan Voeltner is a teacher at Hoover High School in San Diego, California. He has worked there for 18 years and helped to found its small learning community, the Academy of Information Technology.

National Mentoring Month Spotlight: Bronx Teacher Shares icouldbe Experience

MS 254 in Bronx, New York would like to thank icouldbe for allowing our students to be a part of such an enlightening program for a second year. We have evolved from 30 students participating last year to 175 students participating this year. icouldbe provides an opportunity to empower students to prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. There is not one fix for any student when trying to develop a connection between school and the future accomplishments within an adolescent mind, but icouldbe is the right fit for many students in our program. The students are developing skills that will allow them to make informed decisions about the path their future will take.

Students are reading, writing, and thinking about real life desires and possibilities they used to only associated with others. With the help of icouldbe, the students can now place themselves in those roles. Mentors are explaining how they use math and science as well as language and social studies in their daily lives and in their careers. Based on the conversations students are having with their mentors, the students are developing new ideas.

The mentors are phenomenal! If you are a mentor reading my blog post, let me thank you for giving your time and care to your mentees. I appreciate your answering their posts with feedback that helps them formulate goals that are attainable and make a connection between academics and the student’s chosen path. I was really impressed when one of our mentors reached out with concern about their mentee who had lost interest in posting. I was able to locate the student and discuss her mentor’s concern. Before, she felt like it was just a school commitment, but now she knows how much her mentor truly cares about her, her wellbeing, and her success.

icouldbe helps our students think about their dream and see their dream in order to live it.

-Ms. Frazier, MS 254 in Bronx, New York

Ms. Frazier is an educator from Conway, South Carolina currently teaching in the Bronx. She has 24 years of experience and is a life-long learner.Image Mentees Participate in Youth, I.N.C.’s Trading Day for Kids

This year, partnered with Youth, I.N.C. (Improving Nonprofits for Children) for their annual Trading Day for Kids. Youth, I.N.C., a NYC-based organization, engages with the city’s brightest minds and leaders and connects them to grassroots organizations, like, that deliver opportunities to our most vulnerable children. On October 25th, Youth, I.N.C.’s business partner, Canaccord Genuity,  pledged to donate 100% of the day’s commission proceeds to Youth, I.N.C. and its non-profit network. Not only did the event raise $950,000, but top executives from Canaccord Genuity sat down to discuss financial careers with student participants.

ImageIn addition to Trading Day for Kids, which took place on October 25, Canaccord Genuity also hosted a “Mentor Day” on Tuesday, October 23. Thirty high school students, including five mentees, spent the day at the firm learning about the financial services industry. Students had the opportunity to sit down with a panel of representatives from different divisions within the company as well as senior executives from the firm. This format enabled students to engage in thoughtful conversation with the firm’s professionals and also provided a snapshot of a career in finance and what the company’s day-to-day activities looked like.

The students were given some topics to think about in the days leading up to the event, which led to thought provoking conversation between the students and the company’s financial professionals. Topics discussed included:

  • Stocks the students thought had value and why
  • The US economy and where it is headed
  • The 2012 Presidential election
  • 2013 stock market predictions

Trading Day raised over $950,000 for grassroots non-profit organizations in NYC, but beyond that it provided a once in a lifetime experience for our mentees. We are proud to have partnered with such a great organization that does so much good in our city.

Oh, and did we mention that our mentees got to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ at the end of Trading Day? All in all, we all had an unforgettable experience.