CLEVELAND — When Lee Friedman, CEO of College Now of Greater Cleveland, received an invitation to go on WKYC’s Live on Lakeside show recently, she thought her role was to talk about the success of Mentor Monday, a community awareness campaign that netted 125 mentors for college-bound students in a single day. 

But WKYC’s Hollie Strano and Michael Estime had a surprise in store. They presented Friedman with a $10,000 check from the TEGNA Foundation, which will extend the impact of the Mentor Monday initiative, a partnership between College Now, WKYC, Cleveland Metropolitan Schools and McDonald Hopkins.

“Wow,” was Friedman’s initial reaction as she received the check, made out for double the amount that College Now applied to receive from the TEGNA Foundation. 

“We are stunned and thrilled,” she said, adding that it’s challenging to find dollars to cover the administrative costs of the mentoring program. “This will go a long way toward that.”

It was back in January that Say Yes to Education announced that for the next 25 years, students in Cleveland schools will be eligible to receive full tuition scholarships. It fell to College Now to find mentors to help match each scholarship recipient with a mentor to help them navigate through their college years.

RELATED: Mentor Monday succeeds in netting 125 sign-ups for College Now program

While guesting on Live on Lakeside, Friedman and Bob Durham, senior director of scholarships and financial aid, said that WKYC’s frequent Mentor Monday news coverage gave College Now the momentum to recruit all 1,300 mentors needed in just four months. 

“WKYC was a huge partner in making that happen,” Friedman said.

Each year, the TEGNA Foundation, the charitable foundation sponsored by TEGNA Inc. and WKYC, TEGNA’s NBC affiliate in Northeast Ohio, distributes thousands in grant dollars to local nonprofits.

The community grants in the Cleveland market aim to make a positive difference by addressing pressing needs, especially in the areas of education, literacy, workforce development and the environment.

WKYC partners with many of our grantees to extend the impact of the charitable contributions.

For instance, in addition to providing a $5,000 grant to The Alliance for the Great Lakes, WKYC has some stationwide efforts underway that focus on cleaning up local waterways, reducing plastic usage and recycling. In April, more than 30 WKYC employees collaborated with The Alliance for the Great Lakes to take part in Edgewater Park’s first beach clean-up of the spring.

“Our employees are driven by our strongly-held purpose to serve the greater good of our communities and to make a difference in our work, our company and our communities,” said TEGNA president and CEO Dave Lougee. “We’re very proud to partner with our local stations to help address important community needs and support the well-being of our neighbors.” 

RELATED: Students give a shout out to their College Now mentors on WKYC