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

– Winston Churchill


The HEAR Mentoring Program provides guidance and bridges the experience gap through a structured and comprehensive support system to ensure HEAR Scholars persist and succeed at college.

The HEAR Mentoring Program is based upon the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring, developed by MENTOR | The National Mentoring Partnership. Our goal is to ensure college persistence and success. College presents a unique challenge to low-income and/or first generation students. As a Foundation HEAR believes 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 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. HEAR Mentors 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;
  • Monthly check-ins with their mentee during key times throughout the school year;
  • Represent an outside source of advice at moments when students need it most.

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


For 2024, we are looking for up to 29 new mentors to support our incoming class of scholars.

If you, or anyone you know, is interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, please contact us at: info@hearfoundation.org.


HEAR Mentor recognized for his mentoring commitment.


Former mentor, Matt Pankau, was presented with our “Volunteer of the Year” award at HEAR’s Annual Fundraiser in 2019 to recognize his dedication as a mentor over the four years of Nick’s college journey.

Matt mentored HEAR Scholar, Nick, from the start of his college journey in 2015 as a freshman at the University of Illinois Wesleyan . Nick graduated in May 2019, and 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 provided support and advice whenever Nick needed it. There is no doubt that Matt’s help and commitment to being a mentor made a significant difference in Nick’s life. They met in person a few times each year and regularly communicated via phone and email. Nick is incredibly grateful for everything that Matt did for him during his college career, and invited Matt and his family to his graduation ceremony.

After a challenging childhood, Nick’s future is bright. His success story is due, in no small part, to the support and encouragement he received during his college journey. Nick is now a senior Financial Analyst at State Farm. He is married and in his spare time he coaches his local high school basketball team!


Where did it all start?

The HEAR Foundation began its scholarship program in 2009, awarding its first scholarships in the Spring of 2011.

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.