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Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon’s “loving ambush” by appreciative mentees shows impact of a caring mentor

The deadline to become a College Now mentor to a local college-bound student has been extended to April 15.

CLEVELAND — It is a well-known fact that the road to success can be a hard one. That statement is especially true for first-generation college students.

And that's why WKYC Studios has partnered with College Now Greater Cleveland for the fifth time to present “Mentor Mondays,” a month-long recruiting campaign.

Throughout the month of March, WKYC’s newscasts highlighted College Now’s mentoring program and offered viewers the opportunity to sign up to become a mentor. And it was just announced that the deadline has been extended through April 15 to volunteer to be a mentor for a local college-bound student.

College Now aims to increase postsecondary educational attainment through college and career access advising, financial aid and scholarships. College Now helps a variety of students; however, more than half of their program participants are first-generation college students.

And one effective way that College Now has found to help its scholarship recipients, and also Say Yes Cleveland students, adjust to college and navigate to success is to pair them with a mentor for their entire college experience.

Mentor Mondays was started in 2019 with the help of Eric Gordon, the outgoing Executive Officer of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  And recently some of his mentees surprised him with thank you messages. Due to the response to Gordon's story, WKYC Studios, College Now and Say Yes have extended the deadline to sign up to become a mentor to April 15.

“Mentors have an impact on everything from academics to professional development topics, but the number one thing students tell us that is helpful is just having someone there to listen and knowing that there is somebody who can support them,” said Madeline Rife, Senior Director of the Mentoring Program at College Now.

College Now Scholarship recipients hold a 90% first to second-year average retention rate, compared to the national average of 74% for all students.

“Mentor Mondays has been an exceptional way for us to reach a wider audience with this really important mission supporting students through post-secondary education,” said Rife. “So that’s finding motivated volunteers, finding people who want to make a difference and making that connect to the opportunity.”

Since 2019 more than 500 people have signed up to be mentors as a result of the campaign.

Volunteers interested in mentoring must hold a college degree and pass a background check. Mentors are also required to check in with their mentees twice per month on an online platform system and meet three times per year. To learn more or to register to become a mentor, click here. The deadline to apply is April 15.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on March 3, 2023. 

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