Each week throughout National Mentoring Month, Mentoring USA is highlighting one program site where mentors serve as positive adult role models for youth in New York City. This week’s featured program site is the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – New York (IHDF-NY), whose mission is to motivate and empower children living in low-income communities to reach their educational and career potential by providing a long-term program of academic support, mentoring, enrichment, and tuition assistance for higher education.

Mentoring USA thanks Thierry Cazeau, IHDF-NY Executive Director, for his continued support and collaboration. Mentoring USA also recognizes the excellent work of Natalie Corujo, Leslie Gately, and Nancy Restrepo-Wilson, who lead and supervise mentoring groups with great detail and commitment!

Due to the IHDF-NY model of supporting Dreamers from elementary school through high school and into college, the program offers mentors the unique opportunity of a long-term match with support and structure. Mentoring USA currently serves 40 Dreamers with three IHDF-NY programs: Chelsea-Elliott II, DeHostos-Wise, and East Harlem.

Chelsea Elliott II

Since 2006, Mentoring USA has provided mentors to 10th- and 11th-grade Dreamers at Chelsea Elliott II. Many of the mentoring matches have been together for over three years, two even surpassing the five-year mark. The program has developed from enrichment activities to individual mentee/mentor sessions. Now mentors are using the IHDF College Coach program to facilitate conversations with the Dreamers around their next big step.


From the partnership with the Chelsea Elliott II program, Mentoring USA expanded to work with Dehostos-Wise in 2009. The Dreamers in this program are mainly 12th graders, many of the matches have been together for three or more years. The mentors have also utilized the IHDF College Coach program to work with Dreamers through the application process. Now, as the Dreamers continue their journey and graduate from high school and their mentoring program, Mentoring USA wishes them all the luck for their future!

East Harlem

Last year, Mentoring USA was happy to start a small pilot program with the newest IHDF-NY program. This switched gears from providing mentors for high school Dreamers to second, third, and fourth grade Dreamers. These matches are focused on encouraging academic and social success. This year, Mentoring USA was able to grow the program and provide 15 Dreamers with a mentor. Working with Nancy and the East Harlem staff, Mentoring USA hopes to continue to bring more mentors for the Dreamers.