6 Cups to College Mentorship Program Offers Rewarding Experience for Mentors and Mentees

April 27, 2017

Central Valley High School student Adriana Mendoza always knew she wanted to go to college, but wasn’t sure how.

“College was kind of this abstract concept I felt like I was walking into with my eyes closed,” Adriana said. “Since my parents didn’t go to college, I didn’t have anybody to give me much advice. The learning directors at my school did a great job helping us students get signed up and ready to go, but every student has a different story. College goes beyond getting signed up.”

One program Adriana signed up for her senior year did take her beyond the basics. The 6 Cups to College mentorship program exposed her to the various possibilities available to her.

“Through the program, I was able to get professional, one-on-one advice on my college decision,” Adriana said. “My mentor guided me and gave me all sides of the story, showed me the ups and downs of each decision.”

Adriana was accepted to Humboldt State University and CSU Channel Islands. She hopes to attend Humboldt State in the fall, if she receives enough financial aid.

“I am so proud of her,” said Adriana’s mentor and SCOE employee, Ninfa Smith. “I feel very optimistic about her future. It was such a rewarding experience to know that my limited and humble knowledge made a difference. Sometimes it’s the small things that we don’t think are a big deal but, to that student, that small piece of information changes their world.”


6 Cups to College is a volunteer mentorship program that pairs a professional with a high school student to meet at least six times, whether at a coffee shop or the student’s school. The Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) College and Career Planning team administers the program, matches each pair, and provides guidance and resources to the mentors. The mentor and mentee discuss college options, applications, financial aid options, scholarships and career goals.

The program is one element of an initiative called Stanislaus Futures – a long-term, large-scal
e effort to provide low-income Stanislaus County students the opportunity to achieve their college and career goals through college and financial aid guidance as well as scholarships. SCOE, Stanislaus Community Foundation and The Modesto Bee are all Stanislaus Futures partners, providing support and funding.


During the 2016-2017 school year – 6 Cups to College’s first year – the program had 18 mentors and 21 students. Counselors from the seven Stanislaus Futures pilot high schools selected the students.

Even in its first year, the program has made an impact. SCOE and Stanislaus Community Foundation report that each mentee applied to at least one college and many of them received acceptances from universities like UC Davis, UC Merced, Stanislaus State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Cal State Long Beach. 80 percent of the mentees in this first cohort will attend college in the fall – that’s 15 percent higher than the college-going rate for the pilot schools. Nine of the 21 mentees will receive a Stanislaus Futures scholarship.


The students aren’t the only ones benefiting from 6 Cups to College.

“I like being a mentor because I can positively impact a local student’s future through education,” said Dr. Cassandra Abram, a mentor and optometrist in Turlock. Her mentee plans to attend Stanislaus State after graduating from Ceres High School. “It’s rewarding to have a hand in helping a student in my community achieve their educational goals, and hopefully set them on a journey for their own personal and career growth like I experienced in college.”

“Being a mentor has ignited a passion in me to invite my friends and colleagues to get involved,” adds Ninfa. “I think we have some amazing talent here in our community that is untapped. I believe we can create a ‘college-going culture’ one student at a time.”


6 Cups to College is hoping to expand its reach to match 175 students with mentors in the 2017-2018 school year. If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, you can attend one of three orientations at the SCOE Patterson Room at 1100 H Street in downtown Modesto this summer:

Thursday, June 29, 6-8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 12, 6-8:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 5, 9-11:30 a.m.

Register here. For more information, contact Tony Boatner at (209) 238-1717 or [email protected]

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey