Logo - Member colleges copy
Associated Colleges of Illinois


Increasing the number of minority, low-income and first-generation college students who successfully graduate from college is a top priority for the nation, the state, and for Associated Colleges of Illinois. ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program supports students who arrive at ACI member institutions with risk factors that could prevent them from staying in school to graduation. To counter those risks – from educational inequities to poverty and lack of family experience with higher education — ACI matches these freshmen with peer mentors recruited from among juniors and seniors who faced similar challenges when they came to campus.

In academic year 2016-17, ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program will serve 160 students, including 130 mentees and 30 mentors on seven college campuses in urban, suburban and rural settings across Illinois. By building a “relationship bridge” between mentees, mentors and the campus community and its support services, ACI’s program provides an early warning system that can anticipate and address the particular challenges these students face – before those challenges derail students’ college career.

ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program operates as follows:

  • Mentees are incoming freshman selected because they face potential academic, social or financial risk factors. They are matched with peer mentors chosen because their academic, socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds are comparable to mentees’ and because they have achieved academic success, have built strong campus connections and evidence behaviors that model critical elements of student success.
  • Each peer mentor provides ongoing mentoring to five freshmen throughout the academic year. With guidance from their campus coordinators, peer mentors develop individual success action plans that meet each mentees specific needs and then follow-up with mentees to provide support and encouragement. They also work with campus coordinators to develop activities and services that support mentees’ progress and persistence.
  • Peer mentors earn a $2,500 performance-based scholarship for each year they participate. They are expected to attend an ACI-sponsored professional development webinar and to take advantage of other training and support activities their campus offers to build their mentoring skills.
  • Mentees benefit from a close and ongoing relationship with their mentors. In addition, they:
  • participate in activities and services designed to promote staying in college and ultimate success.
  • may access an emergency fund distributed at the discretion of campus coordinators to meet mentees’ unanticipated needs, including the cost of text books, family emergencies and other unexpected expenses.

The seven ACI Peer Mentoring Program campuses in 2016-17 are:

You can provide critical support to ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program with a targeted gift to Associated Colleges of Illinois:

$2,500             Provides a peer mentor with a one-year scholarship in exchange for helping younger students persist and succeed in college

$1,500             Funds a campus coordinator to nurture mentors and mentees

$800                Provides program activities and emergency funds for one freshman mentee

$400                Funds training for one mentor

Make your gift.

If you have questions about ACI’s Peer Mentoring Program, contact Program Director Leslie Joan Millenson at lmillenson@acifund.org

Did You Know?

  • Although nearly 70% of U.S. high school seniors enroll in college within two years of high school graduation, only about 57% complete degrees within six years.
  • Outcomes for minority students are even less encouraging: Only 36% of black young adults and 43% of Latinos who enroll in college complete degree programs in a timely fashion.
  • Poverty affects educational outcomes even more than race. Students from the highest income families are almost eight times as likely as those from the lowest income families to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 24.
  • Illinois’ educational attainment gap is one of the nation’s worst. Of 100 Illinois students who enter 9th grade, only 76 graduate from high school, 42 enter college, and only 28 persist beyond freshman year.
  • Illinois’ white students are 28% more likely to go to college than blacks or Latinos.
  • College participation for Illinois’ low-income students has dropped 5% in the past 10 years.
  • Only 52% of Chicago Public Schools alumni go on to college, most who do choose colleges mismatched to their academic profiles and with poor retention rates.
  • ACI member colleges and universities graduate low-income and minority students at higher rates than do Illinois public institutions or other Illinois private colleges and universities.


Please send us an email, and we'll get back to you.


Associated Colleges of Illinois is a not-for-profit corporation exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions are tax deductible as provided by law. ©2017 Associated Colleges of Illinois

Forgot your details?