Inspire a LINK Unlimited Scholar!

With more than 400 Mentoring agencies in the state of Illinois, LINK Unlimited Scholars is 1 of only 13 Gold Star organizations as evaluated by MENTOR Illinois.

Mentor Illinois recognizes those Illinois-based mentoring programs meeting or exceeding best practices across six program areas, as established by MENTOR|The National Mentoring Partnership, in cooperation with the nation’s foremost authorities on mentoring.

LINK Unlimited Scholars is the only scholarship organization in Chicago that provides 4-consecutive years of one-on-one mentoring for each of its scholars, along with financial support needed to ensure access to opportunities – key components of our successful outcomes! We have over 250 mentors working with our scholars, and we hope you will join them. Your participation will help transform the life of a promising African American high school youth from the Chicagoland area.

This page provides detailed information about becoming a LINK mentor. If you have a question that is not addressed here, please contact Kimberly Jackson, Manager of Mentor Relations & Communications, via phone: 312.225.5465  Ext. 215 or via email

Who are LINK mentors?

Our mentors are civic-minded individuals from Chicago’s business and professional community –management consultants, public servants, lawyers, doctors, educators, engineers, financial professionals, etc. – who want to make a real difference in the lives of youth. The common denominator among our mentors is their belief in the power of education to improve lives.

Are there minimum education requirement for LINK mentors?

Because we are a ‘college bound’ organization that focuses on rigorous academic preparation for both college and career success, we look for mentors who have the personal life experience to help motivate a high school student to perform well in and out of the classroom, explore career options, and prepare for a successful transition to a selective 4-year college.

We prefer that prospective mentors hold a bachelor’s degree from a 4-year college or university and have established themselves in a career for a minimum of two years after graduation.

What are the time requirements for LINK mentors?

Each LINK mentor is asked to make a four-year commitment to one LINK scholar.

We ask that mentors commit a few hours each month to develop and maintain a strong relationship with their scholar through:

  • Consistent communication, by phone or email, at least 2 times per month
  • In-person interaction at least 4 times per year
  • Participation in an annual training workshop facilitated by LINK staff
  • Attendance at 1 or 2 LINK social events, such as our Annual Awards Banquet

Are there financial requirements for LINK mentors?

LINK is 100% privately funded with financial support from individual donors, foundations and corporations, as well as from mentors. We ask our mentors to make an annual financial contribution, ranging from $3,000-$10,000/year or $250+/month, for 4 consecutive years to help support LINK’s tuition scholarship and comprehensive wraparound services.

Our model also includes the expectation that scholars’ families contribute toward tuition.

Do LINK mentors have to undergo a screening process?

Yes. As an organization that works closely with young people, we must, above all, ensure their safety. To protect the scholars enrolled in the LINK program, we require that prospective mentors complete an application and provide their consent for a background check, including a national criminal background check, and a check of 3 personal references.

Does LINK provide training for mentors?

Yes. LINK provides a 2-hour mentor training prior to meeting your scholar. Pre-match training covers mentor expectations, an overview of our program goals and rules, best practices in youth mentoring, relationship development, and a review of available resources. The training concludes with a ‘voices of experience’ panel offering an opportunity to hear the perspectives of scholars, parents, and current mentors.

After meeting your scholar, LINK provides an annual 2-hour group training with your scholar and his/her parent(s) or guardian. Topics covered are relevant to the scholar’s academic year and personal development. Trainings always include an opportunity to celebrate successes and improve shortcomings in the mentor-mentee relationship. Age-appropriate college information is also included and helps reinforce LINK’s college-readiness goals for our scholars. All trainings conclude with a valuable goal-setting activity for each mentor-scholar-parent group.

What do LINK mentors do with their LINK scholars?

LINK mentors provide advice, encouragement and exposure, as well as an extended family network. The guidance provided by our mentors helps connect our scholars’ dreams for the future to the reality of achieving that future.

Typical activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Meeting for a meal at a restaurant or cooking a meal together
  • Attending the scholar’s school event (concert, athletic event, etc.)
  • Participating in various leisure activities (biking, bowling, shooting hoops)
  • Attending a play, concert, or sporting event
  • Spending time at your workplace, discussing your career path and meeting your colleagues
  • Visiting a museum or a college campus

What Makes LINK Unique?

When you mentor a LINK Unlimited scholar, the positive effects of your contribution extend well beyond the student to their family, their school and their community. You will have the personal satisfaction of knowing that your financial assistance, as well as your mentorship, has changed a young life. Also, through your financial support, LINK Unlimited provides a number of invaluable services customized to meet the specific personal and academic needs of each scholar. As you mentor your LINK scholar, our professional staff provides:

  • Tutoring for any scholar who struggles academically. We require that every scholar maintains a rigorous, college-prep course load and a minimum 3.0 G.P.A. Most of our scholars maintain a 3.3 G.P.A. or better.
  • College counseling for every single LINK scholar to ensure their successful admission to a four-year college or university. We offer college visits, family seminars, financial strategies, test preparation, and various college readiness seminars and programs. Our recent graduates attend such fine institutions as Bates College, Bowdoin College, Colgate University, Emory University, Howard University, Illinois Wesleyan University, John Hopkins University, Kenyon College, Morehouse College, Pomona College, Princeton University, Rice University, Spelman College, Stanford University, Union College, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Washington University (MO), and Williams College.
  • Preparation of each scholar for the challenges of college life and adulthood. Through retreats, seminars and 1:1 meetings, each LINK scholar is taught the benefits of goal setting, leadership and positive character development.

One of the greatest, yet unexpected, benefits of becoming a LINK mentor is the feeling of satisfaction you will gain. Our mentors often comment that they receive much more from their association with LINK than they give.

What if I don’t have the time to mentor, but would like to help?

Consider becoming a LINK Benefactor or Active Benefactor.

LINK Benefactor: If you are interested in supporting a LINK scholar financially, but do not feel you have the time to provide the one-on-one mentorship, consider joining the LINK family as a Benefactor. Many recent LINK alumni and young professionals want to be involved as mentors, but are unable to meet the full financial requirement for mentorship. Benefactors help offset our costs, allowing us to pair some of our scholars with younger mentors.

Active Benefactor: If you are interested in supporting a LINK scholar financially and having some contact, consider becoming an Active Benefactor. As an active benefactor, you and a mentor* will be paired with a specific LINK scholar. Active Benefactors receive their scholar’s grade reports and are invited to participate in LINK social events with their scholar throughout the year.

* Many of our Active Benefactors choose a junior-level professional at their office to fulfill the mentor role.

As a LINK benefactor or active benefactor, you commit to making a financial contribution for four consecutive years, ranging from $3,000-$10,000.

How do I sign up?

Wonderful! We’re glad you are interested in becoming a LINK mentor.

Please email:  Kimberly Jackson,, Manager of Mentor Relations & Communications, to schedule a introductory meeting.  After learning more about the organization, you are welcome to complete our online mentor application by clicking here.

THANK YOU for considering this opportunity to positively impact the life of a LINK scholar!



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