Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions about Read Ahead

Who can become a Read Ahead mentor?

Employees, members, or students of our partner organizations/universities and members of our Page Turners program.

Where would I mentor?

Mentoring takes place at our schools, located in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and every partner organization has a designated school, based on proximity. Check out our map to see if we have a school near you!

When does Read Ahead take place?

Program takes place during the school day, October-June, following the NYC DOE schedule. Session times and lengths vary by school, but are typically 35-50 minutes between 10:30 am – 1:30 pm.

What is the weekly time commitment?

Sessions are 35-50 minutes, depending on the school. For mentors affiliated with our corporate or community partners, the total time (including travel) is approximately an hour. Travel might take a bit longer if you are part of our Page Turners program.

How many years of mentoring are expected in Read Ahead?

Mentors must commit to participating for one full school year. We highly encourage you to consider mentoring your mentee for multiple years, which increases the impact of your mentoring relationship.

What if I don’t feel confident in my ability to commit to Read Ahead every week?

You can sign up as a co-mentor. This is when 2 mentors work with the same child and alternate weeks throughout the year. This reduces the time commitment for each co-mentor, and the idea is that if something comes up, your co-mentor would cover for you so that the child doesn’t miss a session! This is a great option for mentors whose schedules may be too busy and would prefer a bi-weekly, rather than weekly, commitment.

Can I choose my co-mentor?

If you decide to co-mentor, we give you the option to partner with a specific co-mentor. You can specify your co-mentor’s name and email in your mentor application. Each co-mentor must submit a mentor application and coordinate their school, session days, and times in order to co-mentor the same mentee.

If you would like to co-mentor but don’t have a specific co-mentor in mind, in that case we will do our best to match you with one. Please note that it may take a bit longer to make your match.

How old are the mentees?

We work with children in kindergarten through 5th grade, about ages 5-12. You may indicate on your mentor application if you have a preferred mentee age range and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

How are mentees selected?

Most are nominated by a teacher or other school staff member. They are chosen for a variety of reasons but most are children who could benefit from one-on-one attention from an adult mentor or need support becoming excited about reading.

What if I can’t make it on my scheduled day?

Keeping to your scheduled day is preferred as the consistency is beneficial for your mentee. However, at most schools, you may be able to reschedule to another day that week, if needed, provided there’s space and your mentee is available. The on-site Program Coordinator at your school can help you with rescheduling.

What if I move/change jobs/etc. during the school year?

We understand that these things happen. If you know prior to the year’s start that this is very likely for you, it’s not the right time to become a Read Ahead mentor. If it happens unexpectedly, we encourage you to finish the school year with your mentee. If that’s not feasible, it’s important to let your Program Coordinator know as soon as possible and to have at least one last session to explain to your mentee that you need to end early.

Questions about becoming a mentor

Are you currently accepting new mentors?

Our mentor application period is typically during the spring/summer prior to each school year’s start, and into the fall if mentors are still needed. Click here for our mentor application (or interest form when the application period is closed).

Is training provided and/or required?

Yes, training is required. Read Ahead provides a 90-minute in-person training for all new mentors. Sessions are offered multiple times a week over the summer and into the early fall. Returning mentors are also welcome to attend the in-person training required for new mentors. There will also be additional, optional training modules for all mentors provided throughout the year.

I attended the in-person training last school year but ended up not mentoring. Do I need to attend a new training session if I want to mentor this upcoming school year?

Yes – mentors trained last school year who didn’t actually participate in our program must attend a new in-person training.

What If I arrive late at the training?

Our training is designed to last approximately 90 minutes and covers different topics to help you feel confident and succeed in your role as a mentor. If you arrive to the training later than 30 minutes after the session starts, you will need to reschedule a new in-person training session.

How long does the matching process take?

Mentor-mentee matching process begins in September of each school year and can take a few weeks. On-site Program Coordinators are in charge of making the matches based on availabilities, special requests, etc. After completing all the steps (including a background check for university student and Page Turners mentors), the Program Coordinator of your selected school will be in touch with you to give you more information about the timeframe. Please be considerate of the timing due to the large number of mentors onboarded around the same time (over 1,400 mentors).

Questions about being a mentor

What is a Read Ahead mentor’s role?

Your role is to be a positive, consistent presence in your mentee’s life! Mentoring is about exposing youth to new opportunities and life experiences as well as guaranteeing that there is someone who cares about them, assuring them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and making them feel like they matter. Your role isn’t as a teacher or tutor, but rather a friend and someone who your mentee can look up to. See more in our Mentor Handbook

What makes a good mentor?

A good mentor is simply a caring, consistent, and supportive role model. Some qualities that make good mentors include being an active listener, patient, and open-minded. See more in our Mentor Handbook.

What are Read Ahead’s rules and expectations for mentors?

Click here to see Mentor Handbook.

How do you match mentors with mentees?

Read Ahead takes into account the interests, experiences, backgrounds, and schedules of our mentors and mentees when making matches.

How should my mentee and I spend our time during program?

You can spend your time talking, playing games, and/or reading books that your mentee wants to read. Following your mentee’s lead and allowing him or her to choose the activities for the day are what’s most important. Ask your Program Coordinator if you need ideas for engaging your mentee.

What do I do if I have a problem or challenge with my mentee?

You should talk to your Program Coordinator about any challenges with your mentee. The Program Coordinators will be able to provide guidance and suggestions for you for working with your mentee.

What if I’m concerned about my mentee’s well-being?

If the child says, draws, or indicates anything that makes you concerned about his/her well-being, report it immediately to your on-site Program Coordinator. Read Ahead has processes in place to report concerns to the school.

Can I give a gift to my mentee?

No, gifts are not appropriate in Read Ahead. You are welcome to make a book donation to the Read Ahead book cart/library in honor of your mentee in lieu of a gift. Cards are also allowed.

Can I post photos of my mentee to social media?

Yes, as long as your mentee’s parent/guardian has authorized Read Ahead and his/her mentor to take and use photos, provided that no identifying characteristics about the child are included. Please do not include your mentee’s last name or school name. Your Program Coordinator will know if your mentee has photo permission.

Can I mentor over the summer?

No, because Read Ahead takes place during the school year, from early October to early June. We don’t currently have summer programs.

Can I meet with my mentee outside of program?

No, Read Ahead does not facilitate any outside of program contact between mentors and mentees. This includes phone and/or email communication, which is not appropriate for Read Ahead mentors and mentees.

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