February News

Celebrating Black History Month

We at iCouldBe believe that Black Lives Matter. 

Celebrating Black History month this year will be more important than ever before. As an organization that supports a community of largely Black and Brown students, we must fight against systems that don’t support, and are often hostile to, our mentees. Join us this February as we take to social media to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of the Black community. 


Mentee Thoughts

A few anonymous quotes from our amazing mentees!

“I feel excited and really upbeat about participating in this program, makes me feel more at peace and I would really like to get to know a person who has experience with this. I think what would make this a valuable experience for each of us is to share common and personal facts.” 




“The word mentor is a lifesaver for me! I really need a mentor, someone who I could talk to about my life and interests, and help understand my level of knowledge. But mainly, to get a spark into my future wantings.”





Mentor Receives $500,000 Grant To Pursue E-Mentoring And Research Initiatives

iCouldBe is delighted to announce our strategic partnership with MENTOR and Johns Hopkins University for an e-mentoring initiative and research on youth inequity during COVID-19. Following are a few highlights from the recent press release:

“MENTOR today announced that the organization received a $500,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation‘s Pathways Portfolio.

“This key philanthropic investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation fuels our work with proven, innovative partners to respond to the needs of the youth mentoring field and educators in the face of the physical isolation caused by COVID-19,” said David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR.

“As COVID continues to disrupt mentoring relationships, iCouldBe is leveraging our twenty years of virtual mentoring experience to support and build a learning community with six previously in-person mentoring programs—BBBS Palm Beach and Martin Counties, CIS Kent Washington, CIS San Antonio, Fresno Unified School District, Latin American Association and STOKED Mentoring,” said Katie Schrauth, Executive Director of iCouldBe. “This funding ensures hundreds of young people retain access to mentors to build social capital and, with our partners, we will contribute to the research that will inform sustainability and growth of the mentoring field.”

Read more here

iCouldBe Statement on #BlackLivesMatter and Racial Justice

To Our iCouldBe Community:

How are you?

Like so many of you, we are grieving, angry, disappointed and exhausted to find ourselves once again facing glaring systemic injustice in our country. Our hearts are broken for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and the many murdered innocent Black people before them.

At iCouldBe we unequivocally support the broad need for systemic change and racial justice in America. We also know that it’s critical to engage in our own self-assessment. We must examine our individual and collective privilege and what that means in the way we work with each other and how we serve our mentees. It’s important that all youth-serving organizations ask hard, and often uncomfortable, questions, especially white leadership since up to 80% of nonprofits are run by white executives. And it’s imperative that we don’t just ask these questions now when racial injustice is dominating the news, but continually as an integral part of our work.

What is iCouldBe asking of the thousands of young people in our program? What are all of us in the youth development, youth leadership and mentoring fields asking of the kids we serve?

We ask mentees to stay in school, but their schools are not adequately funded to provide the structure and support that most adults would demand for their own children.  We ask mentees to apply to college, but we know that high tuition costs and institutional barriers keep many people from earning their degrees. We ask mentees to explore and prepare for careers even though if they achieve their post-secondary education goals and apply for a job in their field of choice, they will likely be paid less than white peers and overlooked for promotions.

What. Are. We. Doing?

At iCouldBe we grapple with these questions and continually evaluate and reassess our approach and our programs to make the most significant impact.

But the work is never done—and it shouldn’t be. As an organization that supports a community of largely Black and Brown students, we must fight against systems that don’t support, and are often hostile to, our mentees. Black lives matter not just in moments of crisis in the spotlight, but in the everyday work when no one is watching. It’s our duty to constantly re-evaluate what we are as a mentoring organization, and to provide space for each member of our team and our community to assess, challenge, and evolve our professional and personal beliefs and actions.

Where do we go from here?

We invite our partners, mentees, and mentors to join us in conversation and collaboration as we commit to the following goals:

  • Approve the pending succession plan proposal to transition the Executive Director position to M. Michelle Derosier, our current Chief Program Officer. Kate Schrauth, Executive Director, believes, “It is time to lift up and prepare our Black and Brown colleagues and trusted advisors to lead the movement that has, in fact, always been theirs to lead. In early February, I reached out to Michelle to ask her to be my partner in a succession plan that would result in her promotion to the Executive Director position. She took her time to reflect and pray and now, together, we will make it happen.”
  • In summer 2020, members of the iCouldBe Board are engaging in a training series that focuses on best practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion in board recruitment and retention. The board is committed to equitable board recruitment and ensuring diverse leadership.
  • To our mentees: We will work to expand your voices in our strategy and decision making, by inviting you to have a seat at the table with the Board of Directors, management and through more frequent focus group interactions.
  • To ensure our work does no harm to the youth we serve, iCouldBe will engage with our youth and experts in the fields of mental health and wellness, and trauma informed youth services to analyze and improve our curriculum and programs.

Where we go from here is, we admit our flaws, we enact the change we control, we speak truth to power, and we fight for justice that has so long been denied. Above all, we must show up for young people to support them in reaching their goals and to amplify their voices.




Welcome two new iCouldBe board members!

We are delighted to announce that we have two new members on the iCouldBe Board of Directors. Sy brings expertise in multimedia strategy and producing social-justice focused content and Matt brings expertise in non-profit finance.

Sy AbuduSy Abudu

Digital & Multimedia Strategist – New York Civil Liberties Union

Sy Abudu is a Brooklyn-based multimedia strategist who specializes in producing educational and social justice-focused content. With nearly a decade of experience in the nonprofit and education sectors, she is currently digital and multimedia strategist for the New York affiliate of the ACLU, where she produces video, motion graphics, design, and photo content. Sy earned a BFA in film and television from New York University. She lives in Brooklyn with her wife, Kait, and their cat, Pesto.

Matthew Estersohn

CPA – Marks Paneth LLP

Matt is a senior manager with the Nonprofit, Government and Healthcare group of Marks Paneth LLP. Matt specializes in providing audit and tax services and has extensive experience with schools, social service agencies, advocacy organizations, cultural institutions, community development organizations and private foundations. He has led training seminars in various accounting and auditing matters for nonprofits. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and has a bachelors degree in Economics from Cornell University.

Welcome Sy and Matt to the iCouldBe team!

Welcome to new iCouldBe Program Manager Liz Ward!

We’re delighted to welcome Liz Ward as a new Program Manager at iCouldBe.

When Liz was in high school she dreamed about being a writer. Her first mentor was her Journalism teacher who taught her that hard work and perseverance pay off.

Liz received a Bachelor’s degree from Stony Brook University. She first started working with underserved populations as a City Year New York corps member and senior corps member. After City Year, she spent the next few years working with high need communities, students, parents and community based organizations.

Today, Liz serves as a Program Manager at iCouldBe, where she manages a portfolio of schools and serves as a liaison between mentors, mentees, and teachers.

When she’s not managing programs at iCouldBe, Liz enjoys spending time with her family, baking and learning yoga.

Liz, welcome to the iCouldBe team!


Introducing Talisa Anderson, Our Newest Program Manager! 

Talisa helps iCouldBe manage communication with stakeholders, risk assessment, and synthesization of data. She’s passionate about seeing mentees breathe life into their dreams with the encouragement of their mentors.

When Talisa was young she dreamed she could be a cultural ambassador who traveled across continents immersing herself in all the shades of beauty the world has to offer. Her first mentor was her high school guidance counselor who believed in Talisa’s voice and vision and taught her to use both to positively impact the world around her.

Talisa received a BA in International Relations from Tufts University and has since worked to empower marginalized communities and promote cross-cultural exchange in schools and non-profits in Asia, the United States and Western Europe. Over the past 9 years, she has advocated for survivors of trauma with the Crime Victims Treatment Center, counseled ESOL adults at University Settlement, and mentored low-income youth at George Jackson Academy.

When she’s not connecting with teachers and mentors, you can find her meditating at a yoga class, exploring cities near and far with friends, and enjoying the company of her wonderful family.

Welcome to the iCouldBe team Talisa!

An Illustrated Fictional Game Story 

iCouldBe is working with a wonderful corporate partner to develop a new multi-year mentoring curriculum that features a futuristic story filled with fun challenges and game elements that reinforce basic mentoring principles. The curriculum and fictional game story is being created by Madeline Giscombe, our Curriculum Developer and the drawings were created by Lisa Decker. Below is a sneak peek at a couple of scenes…


There are many artists and creative thinkers in the iCouldBe network.  Our aim is to adhere to the mission of iCouldBe while making the activities more fun and engaging, keeping in mind the different motivations and learning styles of our mentees. Great things to come!

Welcome New Board Members! 

 We are pleased to announce that we have five new members joining the iCouldBe Board of Directors! Each new Board Member has a wealth of expertise and non-profit experience to help iCouldBe grow.

Rolando Brown
Dynamic Growth Strategist
Advocacy Institute 

Rolando Brown is a dynamic growth strategist, web developer and artist focused on the growth of social enterprises. He currently serves as the Growth Strategist and Engineer for the Advocacy Institute. He drives advancement of the Advocacy Institute’s technology tools and infrastructure. An award winning Community Developer, Artist, and Entrepreneur, Rolando cultivated his blended approaches to infrastructure development and capacity building while working as a consultant for several startups, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. A founding member of projects like the Hip-Hop Association, MVMT, and Embassy MVMT, Rolando has received a Union Square Award for his work and appeared on BBC World News, NPR, WBAI, and LatinNation. He’s also been featured in several books on youth and urban culture and presented at conferences across the globe.

Rolando majored in Leadership and Management Studies at New York University and continues to study human aspiration, cooperation, and conflict. Rolando also serves on the Board of Directors of the following organizations: iCouldBe.org, ParentsTogether Action, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), and the Hip-Hop Education Center at NYU Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. He splits his time between Brooklyn, NY, and Philadelphia, PA.

Rachel DuBois
Assistant Director of Career Services NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Rachel DuBois is the Assistant Director of Career Services at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. In her role, Rachel draws on her extensive experience in higher education and her passion for public service to provide holistic career counseling to Wagner students and alumni. Prior to joining the team at Wagner,  Rachel served as a two time AmeriCorps volunteer, worked in development at a national literacy organization, taught in kindergarten and college classrooms, partnered with non-profits from New Mexico to New York, and managed and expanded service programs at NYU. A champion of non-linear career paths, Rachel enjoys helping people articulate and achieve the next best steps in their professional journey. She has a Masters degree in Children’s and Adolescent Literature from Eastern Michigan University and a Bachelors degree in English and Film Studies from the University of Georgia.

Tim Jones

Based near Cambridge, MA, Tim Jones has worked for 20 years within the children’s trade and educational publishing industry as an illustrator and designer, with a focus on emerging technology, for companies including Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, WGBH Boston, and Little, Brown. Tim recently developed the I See I Learn book series with Charlesbridge Publishing, which helps young children learn the social, emotional, and cognitive skills they need to prepare for school through simple stories and visual learning strategies. Previously, he was a co-founder of Asheville, NC-based Soomo Publishing, a pioneer in the development of online, customizable web texts for professors and students. He has taught art and design from the elementary to undergraduate level at non-profits, Quincy College, and RISD.

Ashley Morse, MSW, ACSW
Family Consultant
Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center

Ashley is an Associate Clinical Social Worker and Family Consultant for Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center. Ashley is passionate in providing counseling, advocacy, and social services to youth and family caregivers of physically and cognitively impaired adults. She received her Master’s in Social Work from California State University, Sacramento with the support and guidance of her former iCouldBe mentor. Ashley has worked in both county and nonprofit organization serving both youth and older adults. Her goal and passion is to unite youth and seniors through inter-generational enriching experiences.

Jeremy Weinstein
Founder & CEO
Jeremy A. Weinstein Strategic Development & Fundraising Solutions 

Jeremy is the founder and CEO of Jeremy A. Weinstein Strategic Development & Fundraising Solutions, a boutique Nonprofit Consulting firm now based in Los Angeles. He graduated from Lafayette College and received a master’s in Nonprofit Management from New School University. Prior to developing his own consulting practice he worked for the Fund for Public Schools at the New York City Department of Education under the Bloomberg Administration. Jeremy is an accomplished development professional with more than 16 years of experience in large grant and major gift solicitation, donor and institutional stewardship, and board advancement for nonprofit organizations. To date he has successfully secured and managed more than $100 million in private and government funding.

Jeremy’s executive level development experience is grounded in finely focused strategic planning for and implementation of requests for philanthropic support and donor cultivation. Through his professional and personal community involvement activities in New York City and nationwide, he has built strong relationships in public and private sectors. When Jeremy is not guiding clients with their strategic development priorities, he is traveling, working out, cooking and appreciating the art world with his wonderful husband.