iMentor Chicago empowers first-generation students from low-income communities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and achieve their ambitions. The model includes high-dosage, in-school programming combined with a dedicated mentor to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in college. Support continues in college with iMentor’s post-secondary program (PSP) which includes tailored advising and guidance from iMentor staff.
Why We Invested
Since iMentor Chicago entered A Better Chicago’s portfolio in 2018, the organization has made deliberate model improvements, created a strong organization, and expanded its footprint in Chicago. iMentor Chicago continues to innovate its program model and improve operations to generate better student and mentor experiences and drive stronger outcomes. Despite a challenging environment over the last year, iMentor Chicago increased the college persistence rate by four percent compared to the year prior while also implementing new student advising strategies and launching a successful summer program for the first time. iMentor Chicago is led by a strong leadership team and supported by an engaged regional board.
Over the years, iMentor Chicago has consistently grown to serve more students each year. However, the organization is gearing up for more aggressive growth than ever before, intending to double the number of schools from four to eight over in the next three years to ultimately serve 3,900 students by the end of FY26. To support this initiative, iMentor Chicago will focus on increasing staff capacity, building operational efficiencies, and expanding fundraising. The organization also continues to develop its sophistication around supporting students and mentors in the most effective ways possible. For example, using response to intervention (RTI) advising quickly targets resources and interventions to students who are off track or most vulnerable to becoming off track. iMentor Chicago is also exploring ways to expand and strengthen its summer bridge program, which the iMentor national organization is now considering replicating in other regions.
- Board strategy: iMentor Chicago (iMC) participated in a board strategy project to clearly outline roles and responsibilities for its regional board and develop a plan for growth in the coming years. The organization worked with Appreciative Solutions Group to support this work and A Better Chicago covered 75 percent of costs.
- Fundraising strategy: iMC worked with Prosper Strategies to craft strategies for sharing the organization’s vision with key stakeholders. A Better Chicago covered 75 percent of the fees for this project.
- Anti-racism training: iMentor Chicago participated in an anti-racism evaluation and workshop to address regional challenges and opportunities. A Better Chicago covered 50 percent of fees.