The New York State Mentoring Program

The New York State Mentoring Program

About the Mentoring Program

About the Mentoring Program

Founded by Former First Lady Matilda Cuomo in 1984, the mentoring program seeks to create mentor/mentee relationships for children in schools, foster care, and the court system.

Mentors are positive role models who guide youth with respect, structure, and compassion to build positive life skills.

The NYS Mentoring Program was included in the FY2016 State Budget and began to grow each year until the impact of COVID-19 on schools which resulted in the number of programs being reduced by 50 percent. The programs that continued adapted to virtual applications for implementation.

In fall 2021, Governor Hochul announced a new Latina Mentoring Program Cohort to be launched in early 2022 in regions throughout the state. Moreover, the Program has seen a significant uptick in interest and commitment, doubling the number of programs and mentors, bringing the program back to pre-pandemic results.

The NYS Mentoring Program leverages the resources of communities, schools, and businesses to match youth with screened and trained volunteer mentors. Currently, there is one Program Director and eight program staff located in regions throughout the state training and supporting dedicated adults and high-achieving high school students who are matched with students in the school-based program and youth involved in the court system.

Mentoring Model

Mentoring Model

The New York State Mentoring Program is the nation’s first school-based one-to-one mentoring program. This highly successful program screens and trains volunteers and matches them to children in their communities. 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 environment at a set time and location. Mentors serve as our partners in schools, courts and the foster care system. 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


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, then 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

Honorable Matilda Raffa Cuomo
New York State Mentoring Program Founder and Chair Emeritus
Former First Lady of New York State

Mitchell J. Auslander
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Debbie Benson
Former Executive Director, NYS Council on Children and Families (retired)

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

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

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

Nisha Menon, Esq.
Court Attorney-Referee, Kings County Family Court

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, NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (retired)

Kim Walker, Esq.
Partner, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP



Matilda Raffa Cuomo
Founder & Chair Emeritus
[email protected]

Keith Howard
Statewide Director
[email protected]

Samantha McQuibban
Deputy Director
[email protected]

Diane Urso
Regional Director
Long Island, Queens
[email protected]

Dimple Patel
Regional Director
New York City, Mid-Hudson
[email protected]

Melinda Sanderson
Regional Director
Western NY, Central NY, Southern Tier
[email protected]

Joseph DeBonza
Regional Coordinator
Capital District, North Country
[email protected]

Stephanie Ellen Parks
Regional Coordinator
Central NY, Southern Tier
[email protected]