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College Mentor Experience kids and staff

Our Goal, Vision & Commitment

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Dear Donors ,

Remember CME in Your End-of-Year Charitable Giving!

A college education can transform a person’s future, dramatically increasing their earning potential and empowering them to pursue their passions. Yet for too many teens in underserved neighborhoods across Chicago, attending college seems like an impossible dream.


Putting these students on the path to college and beyond requires a deep understanding of where they come from, the challenges they face, and what they need to thrive academically and personally. And that’s where College Mentoring Experience comes in.

Our Mission

At CME, we believe that access to a college education can change the lives of youth, their families, and their communities. Founded by a longtime resident of Austin, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side with high rates of violence, joblessness and poverty, CME is firmly rooted in Austin and deeply familiar with the communities we serve.


Through one-on-one mentoring, school-based programs, college tours, and more, CME is helping hundreds of students unlock their potential, with 100% of our mentees going on to college. By investing in these chronically underserved neighborhoods and showing teens they have the power to achieve more, our goal is to break the cycle of poverty and drive positive change across these communities – one student at a time.


CME founder Bernard Lilly says, “It all starts with the individual. When you change a child’s life, it has a ripple effect on that child’s family, community, city and world.”


For the majority of our students, connecting with a trusted mentor is life changing. Nearly all mentees (98%) report a positive relationship with their mentors, and 100% go on to graduate high school and over 90% attend college all over the country. The CME high school graduation rate (100%) is well beyond the 71% of black students in Chicago Public Schools who complete high school.


Rozalyn, a mother of four who credits CME with helping her children improve their grades, manage daily challenges and plan for the future. “My daughter’s mentor and I can tell her the exact same thing, but she listens to her mentor, not me. It’s not just about college; CME is helping my kids through life.”   


Today, CME relies on generous support from our community of donors and private foundations. CME receives no city, state, or federal funding. With far greater demand from our communities than we can meet on our current budget, CME needs to find a way to grow our funding to operate sustainably in the coming years.


End-of-Year Fundraising Goal: $15,000

By investing in CME, you invest in the future of Austin and other communities in need throughout Chicago. Additional funds will allow us to:


College Tours: One of the most effective measures to inspire young people to enroll in college is through facilitating opportunities for our mentees to visit college campuses. We have a goal of visiting at least six colleges and universities during the spring semester.


Scholarships: We have twenty-four mentees that are enrolled in college. We will provide each mentee enrolled in college with a need-based scholarship.


Reaching more students through programs & services: While CME provides afterschool services at area schools, we seek to expand programming to include office hours during the school day for students who need immediate support. CME currently serves mentees from nineteen neighborhoods in Chicago. Increased funding would also allow CME to expand to schools in need across surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, we need support to offer more workshops, academic support, and cultural outings for our mentees.

List of ways to support CME:
  • Show your support for CME by making an end-of-year tax deductible gift by clicking here

  • In-Kind Support: In addition to financial support, CME welcomes in-kind donations that can help serve the needs of our youth, such as vehicles, facilities, after school snacks or event tickets.

  • Make an annual pledge to support CME with reoccurring donations by clicking here


  • Giving Tuesday: Support College Mentoring Experience by donating to CME on Nov 30, 2021.


  • Amazon Smiles: During your holiday shopping, click here to follow the unique CME link at Amazon Smiles and select College Mentoring Experience as your favorite non-profit/charity. A portion of all your Amazon purchases with be donated to CME. 


CME welcomes and recognizes ANY contribution and will send a letter you can use as proof of your tax deductible contribution. Together we will be lifting our mentees up, helping them find better jobs, providing means for them to support their families, diminishing the influence of gangs and violence, and contributing to longer-term economic opportunity and rejuvenation for their neighborhoods.  


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