CU 1 to 1


What makes a good mentor, how we select students for the program, history of how the program got started (began in 1994 at Urbana Middle School and Bottenfield Elementary School, run primarily by volunteers until the school district received a Federal Grant from the US Dept. of Education in 2004.

Both districts picked up the funding for the program in 2007.), how many matches we currently have, how many students are waiting for a mentor, what to mentors/mentees do, training available for mentors, steps to become a mentor, Scholarship Foundation board and the scholarships they give to our graduating seniors. People find it interesting that mentors commit to follow the student from elementary or middle school through high school graduation. Most people come in thinking they could never continue for 5- 10 years, but at the end, most say they can’t believe it went by so fast. They also say they think they got more out of the experience then their mentee did!

Our mission is “to positively impact the lives of Champaign-Urbana students by pairing them with adult mentors to provide support, encouragement, and guidance.” By building relationships, we change lives. (Vision – Building Relationships, Changing Lives We connect students who are “on the brink of success. People are busy in today’s society. Many parents guardians are working two jobs, have numerous other commitments and may not have the time to spend one on one with each of their children. A mentor comes in weekly, to spend time with their mentee, playing games, talking, building a relationship. Each year at the end of the year, we ask mentees what they enjoy most about their mentor. Here are a few responses. “I love have a mentor that gives me extra support and is a friend I can go to with anything.” “I get to vent to her without judgement and get an outside perspective. “Seeing him and talking to him makes my day better”, “She listens to me and makes me feel goot about what I’m doing with my life.” Surprisingly, we often hear from adults how much mentoring helps them and gives them a new perspective. Questions – What are the requirements to become a mentor?, Are there trainings?, When and where do mentors meet? How do students get into the program,?, How are mentors and mentees paired?, Are there other commitments besides the hour a week trainings? What age students do you match? Can I pick the school where I mentor? People should know that the most important part of being a mentor is the commitment to come once a week. We don’t solve direct problems, but when mentees graduate, they often say, I would not have made it to graduation without my mentor’s support, I am planning to go to college because of my mentor, my mentor showed me how to solve problems, etc.

One to One Mentoring has been in existence in Champaign-Urbana since 1994. Barbara Linder founded the program and was the director of the Urbana half of the program from 1994 – 2016. Her passion, creativity and commitment to the program and her ability to pass this on to myself and Tom is part of the reason this program works. I (Lauren Smith) have been the director of the Champaign half of the program since 2007. Tom Howley joined as the Urbana Director in 2016. Having consistency through the years in leadership and in staff (some of our coordinators have been in their part time positions for 12 – 18 years) makes a big difference. We also stress commitment with our mentors – they are not there for six months or a year, but rather the long term. Mentors meet during the school day, on school grounds – they do not go to the mentees house or take them on outings. We offer optional trainings through the year that mentors can attend and we have a part time mentor/volunteer coordinator on site at each school to work through issues with mentors/mentees. CU One to One Mentoring also has a Scholarship Foundation Board that promotes mentoring in the community and raises money for scholarships that we award to every mentee that has participated in the program for at least three years, graduates and pursues post-secondary education. The current amount of the scholarship is $5,000 spread over three years of education. The Scholarship Foundation Board typically awards between $40,000 – $55,000 per year in scholarships

Upcoming Training Sessions:
All new mentors must attend a mentor training before they begin. Upcoming trainings are:
Tuesday, January 29th 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Urbana Middle School 
Thursday, February 7th 11:30 – 1:30 at The Champaign Mellon Building (703 S. New, C)
To register for a training, please contact Tom Howley in Urbana ( or 337-0853), Lauren Smith in Champaign ( or 351-3722)

Upcoming Event:
Scholarship Foundation Board is sponsoring a wine tasting at Art Mart on Saturday, March 2 from 4-6. Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased on our website at

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