The program was revamped in 2010–11, information about the program's current status is available at Belisa Gonzalez's Ithaca College faculty page.
The Cornell Urban Mentorship Initiative (CUMI) offers college students an opportunity to mentor a middle-school student from a public school in an at-risk neighborhood of New York City, while collaborating with other mentors in a biweekly service-learning seminar. Initially started as a Cornell program, from 2010 CUMI has been opened to Ithaca College (IC) students as well.
- Any Cornell or IC undergraduate student may apply
- Participants collaborate in a biweekly seminar
- The initiative works with a number of Cornell and Brooklyn-based partnerships
- Students go through a rigorous mentorship training process
- Mentors correspond with mentees in online forums
- The initiative combines an array of diverse members
- Field trips take place over night in Ithaca and Brooklyn
- A transition ceremony marks the turnover from one year to the next
Undergraduate students from any department, college, or program, who have a strong interest in social-justice issues affecting the poorest members of the New York City community, are encouraged to apply.
The purpose of the service-learning seminar, CRP 3301 Urban Mentorship Initiative, is to support students in the process of integrating academic inquiry into the mentorship experience. The class is directed by Belisa Gonzalez, who specializes in race, ethnicity, and social inequality in the Department of Sociology at Ithaca College. Students will complete readings and journal entries, and engage in class discussions with one of the most diverse assemblies of students in the Cornell community.
An Integrative Approach to Change
The initiative fosters relationships between Cornell and IC students, faculty, and programs and New York City students, teachers, parents, and administrators. The initiative combines the mentor-mentee relationships with a New York City parent-teacher association, Ithaca-based teachers' workshops for New York City teachers, and the New York City public-school administration umbrella. Current partnerships include the Urban Environment (UE) School, the Cornell Sustainability Hub, and the Knight Writing Institute.
The Mentor-Mentee Relationship
Cornell and IC students go through a rigorous training process before they are matched with a single middle-school student from UE in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Using an online tools, pairs interact regularly in a conversational manner. Additionally, mentor-mentee partners spend time together on field trips to Brooklyn and Ithaca.