Frequently Asked Questions

Who are LINK mentors?

Our mentors are civic-minded individuals from Chicagoland’s professional community including: educators, business leaders, lawyers, physicians, engineers, financial professionals, entrepreneurs, etc. – who recognize the importance of equity, encourage our scholars, and create opportunities for our scholars to help transform their lives. The common denominator among our mentors is their belief in the power of education to improve lives.

What does this commitment include?

You are making a commitment to:

  • Mentor an African American scholar throughout their high school career (4 years),
  • Provide a four-year financial investment to support college and career success programming,
  • Expose your LINK scholar to an array of opportunities and experiences through mentor/scholar outings throughout their high school career,
  • Attend a few LINK training and social events with your scholar each year, and
  • Help to recruit at least one mentor for LINK during your mentor commitment.

Are there minimum education requirements for LINK mentors?

Because we are a ‘college prep and career readiness’ organization that focuses on rigorous academic preparation, 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 three years after graduation.

What are the time requirements for LINK mentors?

Each LINK mentor makes a four-year commitment to one High School LINK scholar.

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

  • Consistent contact with your scholar to nurture the relationship and expose them to life-enriching activities and opportunities.
  •          – Contact your scholar twice a month, via phone, email, text, or video contacts, and
             – Arrange in-person engagements at least four times each year.

  • A commitment to attend three annual LINK events (Class Session, College Fair and End of Year Celebration) that occur between September – June.

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 investment, ranging from $3,000 – $10,000/year for 4 consecutive years to ensure that LINK scholars have access to high quality, college preparatory, academic institutions and essential comprehensive wraparound programming.
      For a $3,000 investment, this could be a 12-month contribution of $250.

How can I make my financial investment?

To meet this financial investment, you can:

  • Make annual payments
  • Make monthly payments
  • Share the cost with a co-mentor
  • Check with your company regarding an option for a company match
  • Identify / recruit someone who will commit to a multi-year financial investment
  • Donate stock or securities

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 (and co-mentors) complete an application which includes the submission of three personal references (names and contact numbers) and provide their consent for a background check, .

Does LINK provide training for mentors?

Yes. LINK provides an evening mentor training prior to meeting your scholar. Pre-match training covers mentor expectations, cultural competency training, an overview of our program goals and rules, best practices in youth mentoring, relationship development, and a review of available resources. The training also includes a ‘voices of experience’ offering an opportunity to hear the perspectives of alumni, and/or returning mentors.

After meeting your scholar, LINK provides an annual 2-hour Class Session 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. Grade-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.

How are LINK Mentors matched with a LINK Scholar?

New mentors and incoming freshman fill out a match form to help us connect scholars and mentors with like interests. Each person lists their hobbies, personal characteristics, and activities of interest. The scholars are asked about their ambitions and career goals, while mentors are asked about their occupation. We also try to factor in home and school/work locations into the matching process. Lastly, LINK staff also takes the time to get to know both incoming scholars and mentors to match scholars and mentors to make an even better match.

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 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 investment, as well as your mentorship, has changed a young person’s life. Through your financial support, LINK 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 team provides:

  • Summer Learning Program (annually beginning the summer before 9th grade)
  • Tutoring (for any scholar who struggles academically).
  •          – We require that every scholar maintains a rigorous, college-prep course load and an unweighted              minimum 3.0 G.P.A (on a 4.0 scale).

             – Most of our scholars maintain a 3.3 G.P.A. or better.

  • College and career counseling for every LINK scholar (to ensure their successful admission to a four-year college or university.) This includes:
  •          – 1:1 College Counseling Sessions
             – College Fairs
             – College Campus Visits
             – Career Fairs
             – Financial Aid Workshops
             – College Transition Workshops
             – Test Preparation
             – Summer Study & Travel Abroad Opportunities Fair
             – Toastmasters Workshops
             – Retreats
             – Additional Personal & Leadership Workshops

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 young professional mentors.
  • Active Benefactor*: If you are interested in supporting a LINK scholar financially while 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 contact our mentoring department, via phone: 312.225.5465 Ext. 214 or via e-mail, mentoring@linkunlimited.org to schedule an introductory meeting. After learning more about the organization, you are welcome to complete our online mentor application by clicking here.

I cannot mentor at this time; but I know someone who would be great. What should I do?
Please email the following information with the subject line “Mentor Referral” to mentoring@linkunlimited.org:

  • Your Name (Person providing referral)
  • Your contact number
  • How you know the Prospect Mentor
  • Prospect Mentor’s Name
  • Prospect Mentor’s Company/Place of Employment
  • Prospect Mentor’s Preferred Phone Number
  • Prospect Mentor’s Preferred Email

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

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