At LIU Post, improving at-risk odds through mentoring

Finding his voice: An attendee of Mentor New York's 2018 Long Island mentoring conference has his say.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A regional mentoring initiative with a long history of supporting at-risk middle and high school students will mark its 15th anniversary this week in Brookville.

Designed specifically for youngsters who might not necessarily be on the path to higher education, the annual Mentor New York conference lands Thursday on the LIU Post campus. The idea is to expose at-risk kids to college life and, hopefully, spark an interest in both collegiate studies and personal growth.

The two-day event marks the 15th annual Long Island mentoring conference organized by New York City-based Mentor New York, a nonprofit organization determined to “close the mentoring gap for the over 450,000 children in need throughout New York State,” according to the organization’s website.

More than 100 students – hailing from Long Island, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx – are scheduled to attend this year’s conference, which will feature mentoring experts from LIU Post and numerous regional organizations, all focused on the critical issues surrounding at-risk youth.

The 2019 conference, which has adopted “Making Youth Stronger” as its annual theme, is slated to be keynoted by New York Law School graduate Nicole Sheindlin, co-founder of Larchmont-based Her Honor Mentoring and stepdaughter of co-founder “Judge Judy” Sheindlin.

Jean Lahange Cohen: Proud of progress, more to do.

On the schedule: panel discussions featuring an Adelphi University student and Adelphi faculty discussing the Garden City school’s student mentoring program; a presentation by Daniella Asantewaa, co-founder and CEO of NYC-based 501(c)3 The Fairy Godsister, another female-student mentoring effort; and a discussion of national findings in The Power of Relationships Report, a research study funded by Boston-based MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.

It’s another impressive lineup for Mentor New York, which was founded in 1993 and conducts about 100 training seminars annually, instructing some 1,500 new adult mentors each year. To date, the organization estimates it has interacted with more than 64,000 students across New York State.

Mentor New York Executive Director Jean Lahange Cohen – who thanked LIU Post, Bethpage Federal Credit Union and AT&T for their “ongoing support” – said she was “proud of the impact we are making” through the annual Long Island conference and other statewide initiatives.

“Every day, I work alongside many remarkable people in the business community, political arena and nonprofit world, all dedicated to working together to empower our nation’s youth,” Cohen said. “City by city, together our unrelenting drive provides life-saving tools to local organizations to launch mentoring programs – and also expand existing ones to meet the growing needs.”