Our Mentoring Mission

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”.

Winston Churchill

The mission of the HEAR Mentoring Program is to provide guidance and bridge the experience gap in order to help HEAR Scholars persist and succeed in the college environment.

This is achieved through a structured, comprehensive and intentional support system.

Our Mentoring Program is based upon the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, developed by MENTOR | The National Mentoring Partnership. The goal of the HEAR Mentoring Program is college success and college persistence. College presents a unique challenge to low-income and/or first generation students. As a Foundation we believe that we have a critical role to play in guiding our scholars through the harder times, and providing support to their education beyond monetary contributions. With this support also comes the opportunity to celebrate in their successes! Research has shown that access to an adult role model has a significant impact on college success and graduation rates, as well as the general well being of first-generation students in particular. To ease the transition to college, incoming HEAR Scholars have access to four levels of mentoring support:

  • Individual mentor-scholar relationship
  • Incoming class cohort
  • Peer mentoring cohort
  • HEAR workshops and events.

At the beginning of their engagement with HEAR, Scholars are matched with an individually selected mentor. Most HEAR Mentors are college graduates, who combine knowledge of college life with work experience and have a valuable network of contacts. Mentors provide guidance in a number of ways:

  • Help HEAR Scholars adjust to a new environment, answering questions, and providing advice where needed
  • Offer practical input, assisting with internship search and resumé building, and pre-emptively checking in with their mentee during key times throughout the school year
  • Represent an outside source of advice at moments when students need it most.

HEAR Mentor recognized for his mentoring commitment.


At our annual HEAR Fundraiser in December, mentor Matt Pankau was presented with our “Volunteer of the Year” award for his dedication as a mentor over the last four years.


Matt has mentored HEAR Scholar, Nick, since he began his college journey in 2015 as a freshman at the University of Illinois Wesleyan . Nick graduates this Spring and has already accepted a full-time position at the organization where Matt helped him find an internship.

A committed mentor throughout Nick’s four years of college, Matt has provided support and advice whenever Nick has needed it. There is no doubt that Matt’s help and commitment to being a mentor has made a significant difference in Nick’s life. They meet in person a few times a year and regularly communicate via phone and email. Nick is incredibly grateful for everything that Matt has done for him over the last few years, and has invited Matt and his family to his graduation ceremony.

After a challenging childhood, Nick sees his future as bright. He is looking forward to graduating and starting work. His success story is due, in no small part, to the support and encouragement he received during his college journey.

Where did it all start?

The HEAR Foundation began its scholarship program in 2009, awarding its’ first scholarships in the Spring of 2010. In an effort to extend both the short and long term impact of this program, the Foundation added a Mentoring Program.

Students, especially minority students, who maintain a relationship with a mentor typically have:

  • Increased student retention/graduation rates;Mentoring-1
  • Higher GPA’s
  • Increased academic perseverance and achievement;
  • Increased likelihood that they will return to college for a second year;(Both of the above are held in comparison to those who do not receive mentoring)
  • Increased professional success;

Post College

  • Increased incomes and job satisfaction;
  • Increased self-esteem;
  • Decreased work stress;
  • Advanced interpersonal communication skills;
  • Increased awareness of resources available to them.

Of all of our local efforts, the HEAR Mentoring Program is the greatest difference-maker.

Would you like to be part of it? Contact The HEAR Foundation at info@hearfoundation.org.