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Photograph representing student working on computer. Photograph representing mentor/student relationship using technology. Photograph representing student success in graduating high school and seeking employment.
Project Mission: Mentoring Through Technology to Promote Student Achievement

Project Background Page

A healthy economy, the need for a viable labor pool, growing diversity and a global community create an environment ripe for revolutionary changes in terms of opportunities for persons with disabilities. Youth with disabilities could benefit profoundly from such changes, and our society would benefit from their contributions during their careers.

Yet, at this time, youth with disabilities still face many barriers to productive lives:

  • Thirty-six percent of youth with disabilities drop out of high school
  • More than 50 percent of all adjudicated youth are young people with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders
  • The majority of youth with disabilities come from situations of family poverty
  • More than half of all chemically-dependent youth have been or are actively on IEPs and receiving special education and related services.
  • Youth with disabilities possess a wide range of "at-risk" characteristics, and clearly comprise a large proportion of "at risk" categories.

Mentoring initiatives hold promise in assisting youth with disabilities to achieve more meaningful and positive post-school outcomes. Mentoring has been shown to offer the following benefits for mentees:

  • Emotional support;
  • Increased motivation;
  • Location of needed resources;
  • Acquisition of knowledge, skills, and solutions; and
  • Sharing of systems information, such as employment systems.

E-mentoring offers a format in which students obtain the benefits of mentoring while mentors engage in this caring relationship primarily from their work site. Achieve!Minneapolis, an intermediary organization, developed an e-mentoring model that has been used successfully by the Minneapolis Public Schools in partnership with Minnesota-based corporations—there are currently more than 1,000 students participating. The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition at the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration (NCSET) recognized the value of this model and formed a partnership with the Achieve!Minneapolis to adapt the model for students with disabilities.

Connecting to Success aims to:

  • Promote a vision of greatly expanded opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Link e-mentoring with the transition process
  • Create opportunities for career learning, academic learning, and increased self-esteem
  • Foster high expectations for at-risk students and students with disabilities

By enhancing students' awareness of the world of work, their perceptions of their own capabilities, and their ability to communicate effectively, we seek to increase the likelihood that at-risk students and students with disabilities will pursue postsecondary education. We also seek to change perceptions so that students, educators, employers, and citizens will not only envision youth with disabilities transitioning to productive lives; they will expect it.


Grossman, J.B. (1999). The practice, quality and cost of mentoring. In J.B. Grossman (Ed.) Contemporary issues in mentoring. New York: Public/Private Ventures.

Wighton, D. (1993). Telementoring: An examination of the potential for an educational network.

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This page was last updated on October 2, 2007.