• Our Mission


    MENTEE provides immigrant, refugee, and low-income high school students with exposure

    and support through cross-neighborhood cohorts, mentorship, job shadows and more.



    Our Philosophy

    MENTEE believes that when students have a better understanding of themselves

    and the world around them, they can realize their fullest potential.

    MENTEE values student relationships that go beyond high school walls and

    local neighborhoods in order to create one larger Chicago community.

    MENTEE is committed to making the connections and giving the know-how our

    students would not naturally have available to them.

    MENTEE wants to open all doors for all our high school students to show them

    how to find unlimited possibility and success!





    Learn More...

  • Opportunity, Exposure & Support

    MENTEE is leveling the playing field by connecting students to their future through a wide range of workspace experiences and support.


    The best learning happens when devoted mentors, who are passionate about their work, share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the next generation.


    MENTEE connects students with mentors, offering the network, the work exposure, and the support for exploration of post-high school paths, including employment and higher education.


    As a result of our cross-neighborhood cohorts, students come away with a larger view of the Chicago community, and a circle of friends to help them as they move through high school and through life.


  • What We Do

    We offer a 1-4 year program that places students into life-changing work experiences, creates strong mentor-mentee relationships, offers college credit rewards, exposes students to experts, & provides support for success!

    Understanding Skills and Interests

    As soon as a student joins MENTEE, they receive a complete aptitude and interest assessment, along with career recommendations. With this, we begin the conversation about how to apply these skills and interests in real life. Students develop more confidence talking about these skills and interests with future mentors and employers.


    We work with school districts and other organizations throughout Chicago to identify students who lack the network and connections to find mentors and workspaces. If you're interested in becoming partner, please click here!

    Ongoing Support for Students

    Our work doesn't stop after MENTEEPlacement. MENTEE keeps students in the fold, offering continued guidance and a strong support network to incubate them toward their version of success, whether that involves work, college, service or a combination of all of these!

    Become a MENTEEMentor!

    Our mentors don't just show our students around the office, they show students what their work-life balance is like, how they approach problems at work, and how they got to where they are today. If you're interested in becoming a mentor, click here!

    Donate to MENTEE Today

    We appreciate your contributions and rely fully on the generosity of others in order to make our mission a reality. In addition to supporting our work, 15% of all donations we receive will go to Three Spinners, Inc., NFP, a nonprofit dedicated to welcoming refugees and immigrants to Champaign-Urbana with immediate support for basic needs. Thank you for your support! Please donate here.

  • Who We Serve

    The student. Our sole focus is giving students the connections and opportunities that may not naturally filter out to them. We are not about skills training that serves businesses alone—we are about experience training to serve students.


    We aim to provide students plenty of options, valuable connections and ample experiences in order to give them the confidence to make their next big move after high school.


    MENTEE also provides personal support to the student through their mentor and cohort to help each student develop a larger vision of community, opportunity, and themselves.


  • Co-Founders

    Alex and Letitia were tired of seeing such a small portion of the teen population getting access to inspiring work spaces and the mentors who are found there. They knew the power of supportive networks and early exposure to work space opportunities, and they wanted to be sure all students in the Chicago area could access this power. They started MENTEE to provide experiences for a lifetime of success!

    Alex Ellison


    Alex Ellison is an education consultant and college counselor, working with high school students to find great-fit options after high school, and to secure the scholarships necessary to continue their education. She earned her BA in German Business from Northwestern, her Masters in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Nevada, and her certificate in college counseling from UCLA. In 2010, Alex built a service-learning program for the University of Nevada Honors Program to integrate service into the freshman curriculum, and in 2011, she taught English in Austria through the Fulbright Commission. In 2015, she was a ThinkSwiss Awardee, sponsored by the Swiss Embassy and the University of Basel. Alex focused her research on the Dual Education model and apprenticeship system in Switzerland. Based on this research, she organized a work-based learning committee in northern Nevada to match high-school students with meaningful work experiences. While in Nevada, she also consulted with a Career and Technical program at a rural high school to help broaden the scope of opportunities for students. Alex was also the Executive Envisioner for New E Network, a youth entrepreneurship program at the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation, leading programs that taught teens about the entrepreneurial mindset. Alex has spoken about education, training, entrepreneurship education and preparing for the future of work at TEDx University of Nevada, SXSWedu and the Kuala Lumpur International Youth Discourse in Malaysia. She writes regularly about these topics on Medium.com and is also working on a book called “How Will You Do College?” which will help parents of teens understand the multiple paths to higher education. Alex lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.


    Letitia Zwickert


    Letitia Zwickert is a full-time high school social studies teacher, and mom of three children, ages 16, 14, and 4. She holds an MA in International Relations and a MAED in Secondary Education. Letitia has worked in the European Parliament on defense and security issues, and at Harvard University on an EU grant. She is the first K-12 educator to receive a Fulbright-Schuman Scholar award, which gave her the opportunity to carry out research and policy work on best practices in education for underserved and refugee youth in Europe, in 2016. Letitia is also a current Fulbright Specialist in Education for 2017-2020. Her volunteer work as an Education Advisor for the International Outreach Council for the University of Illinois supports educators throughout the state, and helps bridge the gap between k-12 and higher education. Letitia is a Transatlantic Core Group Fellow, with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the BMW Foundation, and is helping develop a Connected Cities program between the US and Germany to foster civil society networks and focus on those unconnected or underrepresented. She is also a BMW Responsible Leader. Letitia writes for Education Week’s Global Ed blog so she may help educators advance the K-12 teaching profession. Letitia presented her philosophy of “engaged teaching” to the OECD’s Education Team in Paris, in 2017. In New Brunswick, in May of 2018, Letitia will speak at the OECD's Fourth Education Policy Forum, Strength Through Diversity, "SEL and a Sense of Belonging," for immigrant and refugee students. She has a published article in Arab Studies Quarterly on the membership of immigrants in France, and has devoted her life’s work to cross-cultural understanding and local and global learning opportunities.


  • Board of Directors

    MENTEE Directors and Advisors are committed to giving access, exposure, and opportunity to all students through their support of our work. MENTEE is fortunate to have them volunteer their time and expertise!

    Leroy Allala

    Executive Vice President of World Business Chicago & Executive Director of Chicago Sister Cities International

    Patricia Coonan

    Chief Financial Officer at Big Shoulders Coffee

    Dayna Dion

    Senior Director of National and Global Engagement at the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute

    Rev. Mark Anthony Lord

    Founder and Senior Minister at Cityside Church

    Sufyan Sohel

    Deputy Director and Counsel at CAIR Chicago

  • Board of Advisors

    Shounak Bagchi

    Social Impact Consultant

    Thibault Chareton

    Project Management Specialist – Media & Migration

    United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC)

    Tracy Crowley

    Progressive Educator and Curriculum Designer

    Miya Mackenzie

    Start-up Advisor and Marketing Professional

    Sumi Somaskanda

    Anchor, Reporter, and Writer at Deutsche Welle News and Berlin Policy Journal

  • Get Involved!

    If you want to become a mentor and job shadow host, speak at a workshop, or just stay in the loop, we would love to learn more about you! Please fill out this survey.

  • Our Partners

    Thank you to our community of partners. We could not do this work without you!

  • FAQ

    What we are and what we are not...

    Is MENTEE just for kids who don't want to go to college?


    We believe that having mentors who can expose you to all kinds of work spaces in an area of interest benefits all kinds of students! Having early and frequent exposure to different types of work, new environments and inspiring leaders can pique new interests for students and set them on paths they would have never considered.

    Is MENTEE only based in Chicago?


    We love this city! We believe strongly that if we all do our part in our own space, we can create tremendous impact. Chicago is a global community, and attracts people from a variety of backgrounds. Our many beautiful parts make Chicago a wonderfully innovative, vibrant city to live and work in. MENTEE is here to serve the Chicago area, and help its youth soar!

    Is MENTEE an apprenticeship program?

    No, not in the traditional sense.

    MENTEE aims to provide work-based learning experiences to teens, with teens in mind. We do not wish to lock students into any one career path, nor do we want students to enter long-term agreements with businesses before they've had a chance to really explore and have a look around. The main goal of our program is exposure to a variety of mentors and workspaces.

    Is MENTEE just for kids who want to go into the skilled trades?


    We are creating a program that is for all kinds of students, including those who want to go into the skilled trades and those who dream to study at an Ivy League school. All students can benefit from mentorship and work-based learning experiences.

    How can I get involved to support MENTEE?

    We're flattered you like us! Click here to connect with us!

    We are always accepting new mentors from all kinds of workspaces. We welcome more business and institutional partners to work with the students who benefit from the MENTEE program. We constantly are seeking students who MENTEE can help, and who desire exploring options for their future!

    What's with your logo?

    We're glad you asked!

    Our logo icon is a West African symbol (adinkra) that means, "He who does not know can know from learning." It's a symbol that represents knowledge, life-long education and continued quest for knowledge.

  • Donate to MENTEE

    We appreciate your contributions and rely fully on the generosity of others in order to make our mission a reality.


    In addition to supporting our work, 15% of all donations we receive will go to Three Spinners, Inc., NFP, a nonprofit dedicated to welcoming refugees and immigrants to Champaign-Urbana with immediate support for basic needs.


    Thank you for your support!

  • Contact Us


    PO BOX 13426

    Chicago, IL 60613



    alex@menteechicago.org | letitia@menteechicago.org