The City Tutors deliver free professional mentorship to NYC college students and professionals
By Jessica Meditz
The City Tutors, a nonprofit dedicated to providing tutoring and mentorship services to historically underserved communities, recently announced their partnership with Bloomberg LP on their City Mentors Program.
The City Mentors Program was founded as The City Tutors’ second initiative, offering tailored professional mentorships for college students and recent alumni across the five boroughs.
The program is free and acts as a self-paced program where a student, recent graduate or career changer can sign up and ask for a mentor from their area of interest.
In partnership with The City Tutors, Bloomberg provided 100 mentors from across its divisions, including finance, data, marketing, sustainability and technology, to work with City Mentees.
Garri Rivkin, founder and executive director of The City Tutors, said the desire to widen students’ perspectives is what helped the partnership with Bloomberg LP come to fruition.
He emphasized that in order to provide that, a wide breadth of choices are needed and Bloomberg was the outlet to fulfill that.
“Bloomberg is an obvious choice because it has deep ties and has so many areas that it covers,” Rivkin said.
“We were fortunate that we were able to make the connection through some of our other partners and build our relationship to the point that we now have 100 mentors.”
There is a 600-person mentor pool in the City Mentors Program. When an applicant submits their form, potential mentors that can best suit their needs are identified, and mentees select and connect with them.
All sessions are held remotely on Zoom, lasting between 30 minutes and an hour.
In addition to one-on-one sessions, the program also hosts virtual events with corporate partners including Sidley Austin LLP, Citi, Shearman & Sterling, Riskified and ViacomCBS.
“The big thing for us is exposure, making sure students are able to get connected with somebody who is going to give them insight into the field, but is also going to become a possible contact for them,” Rivkin said.
“That way, the information that folks typically just assume people have as they go into decision making is available to the communities that are most in need.”
The City Tutors was formed as a startup at CUNY Colin Powell School for Civic And Global Leadership.
Having served as director of academic support there, Rivkin spearheaded the organization and initially developed a presence in the Harlem area and eventually, across the entire city.
As an immigrant from Lithuania and a CUNY alumnus himself, Rivkin knew the struggles of having little to no guidance when it came to his academic and professional success.
“My journey was atypical. As a student, I was around other students that I didn’t realize were having a lot more trouble,” he said.
“There were a lot of students who had competing priorities, and the hiddenness of resources along with the fact that they didn’t meet a professor who took an interest in them, made them stop or delay their graduation,” he continued.
“Or they were not positioned for the next step forward in what we typically think of as the ideal timeline.”
Rivkin has always been interested in education and how people learn, and naturally gravitated toward teaching.
He has worked at CUNY and across other institutions, community colleges, vocational schools and private schools. He also worked in career services as a supporting career counselor and running a resume clinic.
Seeing the disparities in resources provided to students seeking professional assistance and tutoring was the starting point for building The City Tutors.
“It was in response to the fact that there were gaps,” he said of forming the nonprofit.
“There were opportunities to leverage resources better, and there was a lot of interest in students using their own knowledge to support their classmates that could actually serve as a way for them to more practically and impactfully use their skills and their content knowledge that they wanted to use once they got into the workforce. It also allowed for the community broadly to be involved in the process.”
Rivkin connected with other working professionals who wanted to devote their free time to give back to the community through tutoring, which also leveraged their professional experience in support of students.
“Having access to information about what kind of work and how it can complement their education is what was an important thing to kind of bring together, and it was something that was lacking in the system.”
Since mid-March 2020, the City Mentors Program facilitated 1,770 mentorships and over 3,500 sessions. The City Tutors program delivered 4,000 hours for 400 students over the last year.
Rivkin said he’s grateful to be able to provide students and professionals with resources he and others did not have access to when he attended school.
“As someone who didn’t have anybody around me who could help, and who was around a lot of people who were having the same situation, having a formalized structure that can work and build on the resources being channeled into the public spaces, creates enough space for students and learners in New York to move forward on their journey professionally and intellectually,” he said.