Category Archives: Uncategorized

PA eMentoring Receives 2014 State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant

Proud to be a Good Neighbor: Smart Futures has received a 2014 State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant for its PA eMentoring Program.

The program awards a $500  financial contribution on behalf of each eligable State Farm Associates (active agents, emp

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PA eMentoring is lucky to have many State Farm employees who volunteer their time as online career mentors for high school students.loyees, or retirees) who volunteer a minimum of 40 hours a year to an eligable nonprofit organization.

The grant award is $7500 and will be used to help deliver the PA eMentoring program you more youth.

Thank you State Farm!!

Online career guidance via mentoring supported by Corporations in Pennsylvania

It’s amazing to think that thousands of kids in Pennsylvania are receiving career guidance from real-life working adults who themselves have navigated the complicated web that will connect high school students from a suitable career.

eMentoringLogoin 2012-13 again owes so much thanks to our corporate sponsors that provide the resources needed to offer this program in schools and community based organizations throughout Allegheny County and now growing throughout Pennsylvania.

The following organizations and donors not only contribute volunteers to serve as eMentors, but also provide the financial support needed to make PA eMentoring thrive.

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Keys2Work — IMPROVEs foundation skills critical to college and career success

Keys2Work:  Smart Futures’ First Program and Still Growing

When we created Keys2Work in 1999, I had no idea it would first spread through Pennsylvania as a resource to document student skill gains for special education teachers.  Looking back, it all makes sense.  The WorkKeys skill

k2wlogolevels, the ability to target and remediate gaps, and the benchmarking againstcareer goals is a perfect fit within an IEP.

Today Keys2Work is experiencing its largest growth in high schools and community-based programs that are looking for foundation skill improvement programs that can provide Relevance to the remediation for virtually any student.  The ability to tie skill gains to improvement on PSSAs, college coursework preparation, as well as workplace success is a powerful tool for today’s educator.

And more amazing news:  Last year the educators using Keys2Work in Pennsylvania were able to IMPROVE the foundation skill levels of their students leading to an increase in the collective earning capacity of these students by over $400 Million!!!

This year, Keys2Work is poised to be used by a wider variety of educators, in more Pennsylvania classrooms than ever before.

In addition to career exploration, Keys2Work offers online differentiated instruction in 9 core foundational skill areas.  Keys2Work uses ACT’s powerful WorkKeys(R) System to provide hundreds of hours skill remediation in 9 foundation skill areas considered critical to the success in virtually any career.

          Reading for Information              Applied Mathematics
          Locating Information                    Observation
          Writing                                                 Listening
          Teamwork                                           Applied Technology
          General Career Skills

Improvements in these skill areas have been shown to improve PSSA results, improve students’ grades, help students be prepared for college work, and improve their eventual earning capacity in the workplace.

Login to your instructor account or register for a new instructor code at or call Diane Duncan at 412-288-3900 ext. 223.



Congratulations to May’s Mentor/Mentee of the Month!

Dr. Robert E. Marmelstein, an Associate Professor at East Stroudsburg University was paired up with Jay, a junior at Cranberry High School and the two had an immediate connection due to Jay’s central career interest, Engineering with “an eye toward working in aviation, preferably as a pilot.” Not only is this an interesting career choice by itself, but Dr. Marmelstein also served as an engineer in the Air Force, which allowed him to really hone in on what exactly Jay would need to focus on, highlight, and even improve if he was going to pursue that career. Dr. Marmelstein elaborated by saying that part of what he emphasized to Jay was “the importance of an engineering background, even for pilots.  This is especially true if, as in Jay’s case, a pilot aspires to do flight testing.”


The questions and answers didn’t stop there, though. Jay was also curious about college and what steps he was going to have to take in order to ensure a successful college life. Even more to the point, Jay was interested in finding out which high school courses, interests, and part time jobs, best prepared him for getting an engineering degree. To this, Dr. Marmelstein emphasized that “attitude was just as important as academics; that is, you had to be prepared to handle stress and creatively think through problems and around ‘road blocks.'”


Dr. Marmelstein says that his “mentoring experience with Jay was both positive and straightforward” for both of them. He also went on to say that “in Jay’s case, he was highly motivated and already taking many of the actions I recommended. Before the mentoring process was complete, he had already applied to several excellent engineering schools.”


Lastly, he says that from his perspective, the eMentoring experience “helped him reconnect with the detailed and painstaking thought process a young person goes through when choosing a career,” and that while interacting with Jay, he identified with many of his questions and concerns-as he long ago had many of them himself.


Jay also had nothing but good things to say about the mentor and about the eMentoring program in general. He said he thoroughly enjoyed his experience with his eMentor and was able to not only get a better understanding of his career, but of the colleges he was thinking of attending. Jay also concluded by saying that his mentor also “allowed me to understand the skills I would need for my career and what skills I need to improve on. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with e-mentoring and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about a career.”


Thank you Robert and Jay for your exceptional effort in this program.


Congratulations to April’s Mentor/Mentee of the Month!


Congratulations to Melissa M. and Keeley B. for being named

April’s Mentor/Mentee of the month!

 Keeley is a ninth grade student who is interested in becoming a Physical Therapist because she wants to help others.  From the first couple of exchanges with her mentor, she has been made aware of other careers similar to Physical Therapy; one being Occupational Therapy. “Thank you so much for hinting me toward OT also” says Keeley. “OT sounds really interesting, I would love to do things like that as well as PT. I just want to be able to help people who can not help them self.”

Melissa works for Highmark Inc. as a Decision Support Specialist II.  She has been a mentor for four years now.  Melissa says she has “truly enjoyed being a person the eMentee can come to, to ask questions, look to for suggestions and truly help guide towards their future.  I remember how difficult it was for me to decide what I wanted to do ‘after high school’ and did not feel I had much guidance.  Being able to provide that guidance to someone else is so rewarding.  I’ve enjoyed interacting with all of my eMentees but my most recent eMentee, Keeley, has been especially rewarding.  I feel like I’ve been able to open her eyes to what is out there which ultimately will help her to decide how she wants to achieve her goals.”

Thank you Keeley and Melissa for your outstanding dedication to the PA eMentoring program.  Keep up the exceptional work!

Congratulations to Brad and Doug for being named March 2012 Mentor/Mentee of the Month!

Congratulations to Bradley G. and Doug S. for being named March 2012 Mentor/Mentee of the month.  

Brad and Doug’s rapport was strong throughout the eMentoring program.  They discussed important topics such as post secondary education and majors one can pursue in college.

Brad first became an eMentor in 2008 when the program first began.

He was in graduate school earning his K-12 School Guidance Certification.    “I am not currently in the school guidance field but I still have the desire to help young students succeed and grow as individuals and become productive members of society.  Being an eMentor helps fulfill that desire.  When I am able to help a student out in any way, I feel like I help make the world a better place.   Reading emails from my mentees that say stuff like, “Wow, I never thought of that before!” or a simple, “Thank you for helping where others have not.” is what drives me to want to help more.”

Doug, a senior at Apollo Ridge High School, is a self-motivated, well rounded student who participated in eMentoring in his “Senior Internship” class.

“I had a very good experience as a PA eMentee. This program has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that are out in the world. I learned that I do not have to decide on a career right away and that it is very important to make sure what you choose is something that you truly enjoy. My overall experience was positive and I’m glad I was able to participate in the program.”


Congratulations Doug and Brad!  Thank you for your exceptional effort and dedication to this program.

PA eMentoring hits 500 matches in Allegheny County!



Thanks to the United Way of Allegheny County and their Be 1 in a Million initiative, PA eMentoring has matched over 500 high school students to online career mentors in Allegheny County.  The PA eMentoring program gives educators an innovative way to connect kids with working professionals and gives kids an opportunity to create a post secondary education and career plan while talking to a mentor.  Smart Futures staff started to recruit schools for this initiative, with the help of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, in the fall of 2011.  As of today, February 28, we hit our target mark!

The schools involved in this initiative are:  Allegheny Valley, Avonworth, Baldwin Whitehall, Chartiers Valley, Clairton City, Crossroads Foundation, Deer Lakes, East Allegheny, Elizabeth Forward, Fox Chapel,  Gateway, McKeesport Area, PA Learners, Parkway West CTC, Pittsburgh Project, Sci-Tech Academy, Shaler, South Allegheny, Steel Center, Sto-Rox, The Neighborhood Academy, and Woodland Hills.

We are so excited to have the opportunity to share our career education programs with Allegheny County Schools.  A special thanks to the United Way of Allegheny County for making this possible.




Congratulations to Torsten and Mary for being named February’s Mentor/Mentee of the Month!

 Torsten, originally from Germany, is working at the University of Pittsburgh in the Economics and Statistics department as a lecturer.  He is also currently working toward his Doctorate.  Mary is a sophomore in high school and plays basketball, softball, and is in the marching band.  She is involved in many extracurricular activities and clubs, and is the treasurer of her class.

Mary and Torsten’s rapport from the start of their PA eMentoring relationship has been valuable.  With their high level of engagement, and genuine interest in excellence, both parties have connected and shared guidance and advice.

Although Mary is unsure of a future career path, she is very interested in several science related jobs.  “I have thought about becoming a pharmacist, pediatrician, or even a physical therapist, but I don’t know for sure what I would like to be. I am currently taking chemistry at school, and I have loved all of my science courses up until, and including, this point.”

Torsten has suggested looking into some of the job profiles within the professions Mary is interested in.  As an employee at the University of Pittsburgh, Torsten has taken the time to share some of Pitt’s course information as well.

“As a foreigner to this country, I have greatly benefited from the support, the warm reception and the friendships extended by many Americans.” says Torsten.  “I feel very fortunate that I have now arrived at a point where I can start giving back to the community that has continuously been offering me so many opportunities. Working with young people on their education and careers at Pitt,  mentoring came a natural choice.”

Torsten and Mary’s eMentoring relationship blossomed throughout the time they have been working together.  Each are contributing thoughtful responses to the activity questions and are sharing valuable information.

“I have found eMentoring very helpful as I begin to make my career choice.  I am one of the students who is not quite sure yet what I want to be, and this program has helped me eliminate some professions as well as take others into consideration,” says Mary.  “I am looking forward to finishing the program and hopefully having a better idea of what career I would like to pursue.”

Thank you Torsten and Mary for your exceptional effort and dedication to this program.

Congratulations to Andrea and Jacob for being named January’s Mentor/Mentee of the Month!

Andrea and Jacob’s eMentoring rapport started strong with the sharing of similar interests in their profiles and introductions.  With a common interest in science and physics, Andrea and Jacob had a lot to talk about.

 Andrea graduated from the Naval Academy and was commissioned as an officer in the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.  She spent a year in nuclear power training and then the next four and a half years operating nuclear reactors for the Navy.  Andrea recently got out of the Navy and now works in technical marketing in the nuclear industry for RagingWire Data Centers.

Andrea decided to become a PA eMentor because “I wanted to help high school students realize the full breadth of opportunities available to them in their post-secondary education/career. As a military veteran and current reservist, I wanted to make sure that prospective military members knew all the information possible about their decision.”

Jacob is an 11th grade student interested in science and math.  He plans to go to a college or a university for astrophysics.  His primary interest is astrophysics, but he also plans to study quantum, theoretical, particle and nuclear physics.

“My experience as a PA eMentee was insightful and I enjoyed it immensely.  Enabling me to have access to data and information, the eMentoring program provided me with the last bits of research that I needed to refine my college plans.  Exceptionally helpful and friendly, my eMentor gave me invaluable advice and answered every question that I asked, no matter how trivial.”

Andrea and Jacob’s relationship blossomed throughout the ten week program.  Each contributed thoughtful responses to the activity questions and shared valuable information.  Thank you Andrea and Jacob for your exceptional effort and dedication to this program.

It’s National Mentoring Month!

January is National Mentoring month!

National Mentoring Month was “created in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.  National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how each of us—individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits—can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure brighter futures for our young people.”


We want to thank all of our PA eMentors for the fantastic work and dedication that they put forth throughout the program. With your volunteerism, we can reach thousands of students who will benefit from guidance around post-secondary education and career planning. We appreciate you sharing your career story with these students and your effort in the PA eMentoring program.

Click here to learn more about National Mentoring month and other ways you can get involved.

To learn more, go to