Making the Business Case for Youth Mentoring

August 28, 2016


EY makes career readiness a priority with purpose-driven mentoring program.

[Editor's Note: Deborah Holmes, Americas Director, Corporate Responsibility, EY will be speaking at Purpose & Progress on November 16-17 during the education track. Register here to attend!]

Youth with mentors are more likely to be successful in school, more likely to be leaders in their communities and more likely to enter into young adulthood with opportunities for ongoing education and career choices. To help connect students to vital mentoring opportunities, the nation’s business community needs to increase its role in youth mentoring for long-term success.

The Strong Business Case for Youth Mentoring
In spite of our nation’s considerable resources, too many of our youth suffer from poverty and community violence, struggle to complete their education, and then become young adults who have trouble finding a career foothold in our current economy.

It’s estimated that over 60% of all new jobs in the next decade will require some post-secondary education, But in 2013, one in five American youth did not finish high school with their peers, and an estimated 5.6 million youth aged 16–24 are now disconnected from education and career opportunities. This represents a loss of talent, human capital and societal contribution that the U.S. cannot afford.

Clearly, we must do more to nurture youth through their challenges, ensure their personal and educational development, and provide greater support in joining and contributing to our workforce.

Some of America’s Top Corporations and Businesses Have Begun to Meet this Challenge
The good news is that many organizations in the private sector are marshalling their skills, expertise, resources and substantial human capital to provide support, connectivity and often a window into the world of work for youth across America—often in creative and innovative ways.

At EY, for example, our College MAP (Mentoring for Access and Persistence) program matches groups of employee volunteer mentors with groups of local 11th and 12th graders in underserved high schools so that they can gain access to college and succeed in higher education. To implement the program, EY collaborates with College for Every Student (CFES), a not-for-profit organization committed to raising the academic aspirations of underserved youth.

EY College MAP is highly successful and has grown to 26 cities across the US. We provide access to
higher education for underserved youth by engaging our people as mentors who offer personal support, coaching and guidance through the college application and admission processes. College MAP mentors are drawn from all levels of EY professionals, who make a two-year commitment to monthly in-person meetings, as well as to contact between meetings. College MAP mentors work in groups to support one another, help each other balance professional and volunteering schedules, and provide a broader knowledge base. The scholars also work in groups to support each other.

Since its inception in 2009, EY College MAP has helped more than 600 students begin their post-secondary journey. Among our College MAP scholars, 90% of those who graduated high school pursued higher education.

In addition, EY raises money to help bridge the gap between real college costs and the financial means of the scholars. Since the inception of the EY College MAP Scholarship Drive in 2014, we have distributed more than $650,000 to College MAP graduates.

Corporate mentoring is also valuable to our employees. Since launch in 2009, over 800 EY professionals in the US have participated in the College MAP program. We’ve been delighted by the impact the program has had on our professionals who have volunteered. We regularly conduct employee engagement surveys, and we’ve found that people who have volunteered in College MAP have a much higher connectivity to the firm and feel they are contributing to our vision of building a better working world. We give them time to participate, and they find it very fulfilling to mentor these high school students.

When the private sector understands that mentoring is vital for its own future, it is reviving that old idea that a strong society, like a strong business, is one that ensures a skilled future workforce and a prosperous community.

To learn more about the growing private sector role in the youth mentoring movement, including trends and best practices in corporate engagement, visit and download our new report: Mentoring: At the crossroads of education, business and community.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Co-Designing the Future: The Role of the Private Sector Partnering in Education]