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Private sector mentoring of the future workforce strengthens communities

EY mentors are making an impact in the private sector by strengthening communities and careers.

In the US, for every 100 students aged 18 to 24 in the bottom income quartile, only three-quarters earn a high school diploma. Less than half go to college, and even fewer (10) earn a BA designation or higher.

More than 65% of today’s jobs require postsecondary education, but a large component of our future generation is not being equipped with the skill sets and mindsets to thrive, and they don’t consider postsecondary education because of barriers like financial roadblocks or culture shock.

The answer to this nationwide challenge lies in private sector mentoring. Mentored youths are more likely to be successful in school, to be leaders in their communities and to enter adulthood with opportunities for ongoing education and career choices.

In the EY organization, we’re well positioned to take this on because it’s where business strategy, organizational capabilities and societal needs intersect. One example is EY College MAP  (Mentoring for Access and Persistence), where our EY volunteers work in a group mentoring model to help demystify the college application and financial aid processes for high school students. And after graduation, they help students persist in achieving the dream of college.

To date, EY College MAP volunteers have mentored more than 2,000 underserved students across 38 US cities. Our volunteers also support underserved students through Junior Achievement, United Way and the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), among other skills-based mentoring programs.

EY mentors are making an impact

In 2020, over 12,290 EY volunteers across the Americas positively impacted more than 8.2 million lives! And we’ve found that skills-based volunteering programs have great organizational benefits as well — like a more engaged workforce, improved career development, longer tenure and higher performance ratings.

Launching a community mentoring program within your organization

Corporate mentoring programs help strengthen communities and also create shared value for all businesses by developing the future workforce. If your organization is thinking of starting or expanding a community mentoring program, here are some things to consider:

1. Understand the tone at the top: 

Dig deep with leadership to understand the focus of your commitment. In our organization, one of our important Corporate Responsibility (CR) focus areas is supporting access to higher education for underserved youth and developing future generations of talent.

2. Know your organization’s sweet spot: 

Create a strategy that aligns with the program’s vision and intersects with your organization’s business competencies and societal needs. Our organization focuses on skills-based volunteering to provide the maximum impact, with a focus on mentorship. We also make sure many opportunities can be done from anywhere at any time, so our people can fit their commitment into their busy lives.

3. Be ready for constant change: 

A good CR program is agile and can shift based on the results and evolving business and societal needs. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we pivoted to an entirely virtual mentoring model. We’ve also made other changes, like upskilling volunteer mentors with future-focused leadership training.

4. Communicate: 

Make sure your people and external stakeholders know what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll get there. Keep the dialogue transparent and be open to feedback along the way.

5. Measure, measure, measure:

Metrics around both short- and long-term goals will help you make better decisions and get others onboard with your efforts.

Your organization can help solve some of our society’s toughest challenges by leveraging what you already do best, and by engaging your people to do more. And you’ll be surprised how quickly your people become inspired. By getting involved in private sector mentoring, you’re not just changing the lives of underserved students, you’re creating long-term value for us all.


Mentored youths are more likely to be successful in school, to be leaders in their communities, and to enter adulthood with opportunities for ongoing education and career choices. Private sector mentoring helps strengthen communities and also creates shared value for all businesses by developing the future workforce.

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