The New York State Mentoring Program

TOP The New York State Mentoring Program
A Message from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
As a father, I know how important it is for children to have role models in their own lives, a steadfast and unwavering presence to look to when they begin to find their purpose and their voice. For me, that was my own father, Governor Mario Cuomo, and it continues to be my mother, First Lady Matilda Raffa Cuomo. In January 2015, I knew I had to do more to honor my father and give New York’s children the gift of love and leadership that was afforded to them under his administration. I reinstated the original New York State Mentoring Program and put back at the helm the woman who established and chaired the program, the one who knew my father and understood his legacy more than anyone: my mother.
My father first put my mom -- a teacher, a mother of five, a grandmother -- in charge of the program in 1984 to further prevent school dropouts and to cut the high rate of incarceration among teenagers in New York State, and to give children the fighting chance they deserve. Through great dedication and care, my mother created and implemented, our nation’s first one-to-one school-based mentoring program statewide, not only showing children the importance of staying in school, but sending the message that there are people who are counting on them to succeed. From its inception until the end of 1994, The New York State Mentoring Program helped prevent at least 10,000 youth from leaving school, giving them new opportunities to succeed in life.
Any one of us can be a mentor and make a difference in the life of a child. I brought this program back because I believe in New Yorkers, their values, and their understanding that when one does better, we all do better. Help a child reach their full potential and become a mentor today. It will change their lives, and yours.
Mentoring Model
Mentoring Model
New York will lead the way once again in mentoring with the reinstatement of The New York State Mentoring Program Chaired by Matilda Raffa Cuomo Founder of the original New York State Mentoring Program.    
In 1984, Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo Founded and Chaired The New York State Mentoring Program the nation’s first school-based one-to-one mentoring program. This highly successful program screened and trained volunteers and matched them to children in their communities as a way to prevent high school drop-out. Before the program ended in 1995, it successfully connected thousands of New York State’s neediest students to a network of highly trained Mentors to succeed in school and graduate. 
The New York State Mentoring Program follows a research-based model of mentoring in which Mentors and Mentees meet one-to-one in a supervised school environment at a set time and location. This format not only allows for the volunteer mentors to properly manage their busy schedules, but also provides much needed consistency to the mentoring relationship.
Benefits of Having a Mentor
Benefits of Having a Mentor

A “Public Private Ventures” study shows:

  • Mentees are 46% less likely to start using illegal drugs than their peers.
  • Mentees are 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip class.
  • Mentees are more trusting of their parents or guardians, and are less likely to lie to them and feel more supported and less criticized by peers.
What does Mentoring Entail: 
  • Encouraging young people to stay in school, improve attendance, academic achievement, and overall academic focus.
  • Inspiring students to make sound decisions and take on higher levels of personal responsibility for their actions at home, in the classroom and in the greater community.
  • Helping to instill self-confidence in young people and improve their communication and problem solving skills.
  • Helping students grow, and attain a greater sense of purpose, enterprise and accomplishment, guiding them toward a brighter future.
How to Become a Mentor
How to Become a Mentor
  1. Visit the Council on Children and Families’ website and use the interactive map to select the county you would like to mentor in.  Contact information for the Mentoring Coordinator for your selected county is presented on the map. Please feel free to contact the Mentoring Coordinator for your county with any questions about the program.
  2. After your application has been received, an appointment will be made for you to interview with a New York State Mentoring Program Director.
  3. After your interview and screening process are complete, you will sign up to be trained as a Mentor. During the Mentoring training, you will learn about your role as a Mentor to help prevent children at risk of dropping out of school.
  4. A New York State Mentoring Program Director will match you with a Mentee at a nearby school and contact you about a start date. 

Apply to be a Mentor

Matilda Cuomo Biography
Matilda Cuomo Biography


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The Honorable Matilda Raffa Cuomo’s life has been dedicated to service, as evidenced by her longstanding role as a respected and distinguished advocate on behalf of women, children, and families.

As First Lady of New York State (1983-1995), she diligently worked with state and elected officials and community leaders to establish programs to prevent child abuse, strengthen families, promote adoption for foster care children, and improve school absenteeism and retention. Her work has been invaluable and its impact can be felt even today. Mrs. Cuomo has been described as the most active First Lady in New York State’s history.

Mrs. Cuomo chaired and served as chief spokesperson for the New York State Decade of the Child initiative, co-chaired the Governor’s Commission on Child Care, and chaired the New York State Citizens Task Force on the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. In addition, Mrs. Cuomo led New York State’s participation in the United Nation’s 1990 World Summit for Children and the U.S. ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She also traveled to Africa with Harry Belafonte on behalf of UNICEF and was associated with the Day of the African Child since its inception in 1990. In 1994, Mrs. Cuomo was invited to the Republic of Malta by the International Steering Committee of the United Nations to launch the International Year of the Family, and in 1997, she was invited by President Clinton and Colin Powell to participate in the President’s First Summit on Volunteerism. Also in 1997, Family Circle magazine selected Mrs. Cuomo as the Lifetime Achievement winner. She now serves as a lifetime National Assembly Board Member of the National American Cancer Society and as a Board Member of the President’s Council of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Mrs. Cuomo is a graduate of St. John’s University’s Teachers College, and resides in New York City.

In 1984, Mrs. Cuomo chaired the committee that established the nation’s first school-based one-to-one mentoring program. The highly successful New York State Mentoring Program screened and trained volunteers and matched them to children in their communities as a way to prevent high school drop-out. Before the program ended in 1995, it reached more than 10,000 students statewide, connecting thousands of adolescents to a network of highly trained mentors to help them succeed in school, to graduate, and to advance to the workplace as committed, socially responsible citizens.

In his 2015 State of the State address, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced New York State’s recommitment to mentoring by reestablishing The New York State Mentoring Program, chaired again by his mother, Mrs. Cuomo. Her leadership will help allow New York to once again lead the way in mentoring children toward successful outcomes with a renewed emphasis on one-to-one mentoring, innovative programming, and ongoing support for the needs of children in our state.

In October 2016, Mrs. Cuomo was awarded the very first Matilda Raffa Cuomo Humanitarian Award at the Midwood High School 75th Jubilee Gala, to not only honor her work with the New York State Mentoring Program, but also her lifelong commitment to helping students succeed and encouraging them to continue their education. Each year going forward, the award will be given to a Midwood High School student who best exemplifies Mrs. Cuomo’s qualities, intellect, and morals, and who uphold the values of perseverance, genuineness, and integrity.

Advisory Council
Advisory Council

Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo, First Lady of New York State 1982-1995
Founder and Chair of The New York State Mentoring Program

Mitchell J. Auslander
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Debbie Benson
Executive Director, NYS Council on Children and Families

Judith Beville
Former Regional Director- NYS Mentoring Program
Town Official, Town of Greenburgh, Westchester County

BJ Carter
Healthy Directions, National Program Director, Healthy Children Healthy Futures

Frank Di Berardino
Director, National Bellamy Award Organization 

Don Distasio
Retired CEO of American Cancer Society Eastern Division
Baldwinsville Rotary Club President
NYS Cancer Prevention Council - Board member
NYS Health Research Board Member
YMCA - Board Member

Sandy Gallo 
Long Island

Dr. Jere Hochman
Deputy Secretary for Education

Kevin Leyden
Senior Vice President, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
Albany Medical Center

Susan Murante 
Media Consultant

Terry Paladini-Baumgarten
Economist - International Consultant and Bank Advisor
Former International Banker and Professor
International Relations Chair to Lions Clubs International – DR2
Founder and former President of the NY Financial District Lions Club

Jim Quail
Retired NYC Public Schools Superintendent
Educational Consultant

Pat Reilly
Former Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Motor Vehicles (retired)

Robert H. Samson
Founding Member of The New York State Mentoring Program





If you have questions about The New York State Mentoring Program, please call or email us.