Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly asked questions and answers about students, mentors and our community.

Who can apply for the Sponsor-A-Scholar program?

Students must be enrolled in the public high schools of Albany, Schenectady, or Troy, New York. All students must meet the income requirements outlined in the Federal Free or Reduced lunch guidelines. Additionally, students who have a B-average, a desire to pursue higher education after high school, and  families who support their post-secondary education plans are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in working with students who would be the first in their families to go to college.

Who can apply for the 518 Elevated program?

Students must be enrolled in the public high schools of Albany, Schenectady, or Troy, New York. All students must meet the income requirements outlined in the Federal Free or Reduced lunch guidelines. Additionally, students who have a B-average, a desire to pursue higher education after high school, and  families who support their post-secondary education plans are encouraged to apply. We are particularly interested in working with students who would be the first in their families to go to college.

How old do you have to be to apply for the program?

Students apply and are selected at the end of the 9th grade year to start the program in the fall of 10th grade.

How are students selected?

Interested students should fill out Part 1 of the application which determines eligibility. A committee of volunteers will review the application. If eligible, the committee will email a link to the second part of the application. Once that has been reviewed, applicants will be invited for an interview with the selection committee. Two teacher recommendations will be required with Part 2 of the application.

When are applications available?

Applications will open on April 1 of each year. Final selections will be made by mid-June. Accepted students will be notified by phone call and in writing.

How many students get selected each year?

Typically, a minimum of 24 students (8 per school) and a maximum of 30 students (10 per school) are accepted each year.

Once a student is selected, how does the program work?

Students are required to: attend weekly afterschool sessions, participate in academic enrichment programs, and meet regularly with an adult mentor. In addition, students are encouraged to take an academically rigorous course load (518 ElevatED covers the cost of college-level classes in high school); and participate in college visits, career exploration programs, cultural enrichment opportunities, and networking events.

Once a student is selected, how does the program work?

Students are required to: attend weekly afterschool sessions, participate in academic enrichment programs, and meet regularly with an adult mentor. In addition, students are encouraged to take an academically rigorous course load (518 ElevatED covers the cost of college-level classes in high school); and participate in college visits, career exploration programs, cultural enrichment opportunities, and networking events.

What happens once a student graduates from high school?

518 ElevatED is a long-term program and continues to work with students until they complete college or another form of higher education.

What kind of support do you offer your students?

Throughout high school, students participate in our Pathways to College program, which provides personalized academic support. We help build a solid academic, emotional, and financial foundation by offering activities such as weekly afterschool sessions with access to tutors and skill-building workshops on a variety of topics; college campus tours; fees covered for college-level courses in high school; SAT fees and prep classes; career awareness activities; assistance with college applications, financial aid forms and studentship applications; and one-on-one mentoring.

Once students graduate from high school, we continue to provide support through our College Success program. Students receive individualized guidance through biannual meetings; help with networking, resume building, interviewing skills; access to internship opportunities; and a $750 stipend at the end of every semester to pay for books, transportation, or other college-related expenses.

I attend a different school in the Capital Region; how can I get involved?

Thank you for your interest in being involved in the program. Please fill out the information form on the contact us page and include the name and city of the school you attend. Sometimes other skill-building programs are open to students across the Capital Region, and we would be happy to let you know if a program becomes available in your area.

FAQ For Mentors

What do mentors do?

A mentor is a supportive adult who serves as a role model, advocate, and cheerleader to one college-bound high school student. A mentor opens doors to new social, cultural, and educational experiences and provides professional networks for a student. Mentors are an integral part of our students’ college access and success.

What do mentors do?

A mentor is a supportive adult who serves as a role model, advocate, and cheerleader to one college-bound high school student. A mentor opens doors to new social, cultural, and educational experiences and provides professional networks for a student. Mentors are an integral part of our students’ college access and success.

What types of activities do mentors do with students?

This is a community mentoring program which means that mentors and students will organize their activities after school and on the weekends. Mentors should coordinate with their students and the student’s parent or guardian to determine clear boundaries regarding the appropriate kinds of activities. Occasionally, 518 ElevatED will host group mentoring activities. In addition, a monthly e-newsletter provides a list of free or low-cost activity ideas.

What is the time commitment?

Mentors should plan to spend about four hours per month with their students. After each activity, mentors fill out an online activity log to track the total number of mentoring hours and types of activities. We ask that mentors make a 3-4 year commitment beginning in either the student’s 10th or 11th grade year in high school through their freshman year in college.

Who is eligible to be a mentor?

Mentors should be 21+ and preferably have  a minimum of an associate degree or some form of higher education to better support students with the college application process.

How do you support mentors?

Mentors receive two hours of mandatory introductory training before being matched with a student. Additional ongoing training is offered a couple of times throughout the year. Resource materials are available to guide mentors through each year of the mentoring. In addition, staff regularly check in with mentors and students to provide ongoing guidance and support.

How do I become a mentor?

The first step is to fill out the online application then a member of our staff will contact you to let you know if we have a current need for mentors and, if so, set up an in-person or video interview. After that, all mentors must attend a 2-hour training, fill out a background check and submit two personal references.

When would I start mentoring?

Our most imminent need for new mentors is in October and November; however, sometimes, there are students who need a mentor at various times during the year. Therefore, we take applications all year long and will let you know when we have a match available.

When would I start mentoring?

Our most imminent need for new mentors is in October and November; however, sometimes, there are students who need a mentor at various times during the year. Therefore, we take applications all year long and will let you know when we have a match available.

How are students and mentors matched?

We match mentors and students based on shared interests. We learn about a mentor’s interests and skills throughout the application process and do our best to match that with a student’s interests and needs. Mentors and students are matched based on gender.

What if a mentor has trouble connecting with the student?

While we make every effort to make effective matches, we understand that forming a new relationship with a student can be challenging. Therefore, we ask that you reach out to our Program Coordinator as soon as you notice any issues to use strategies to improve the connection. If it is determined that the match will not work, we will explore the option of a rematch with another student.

Is 518 Elevated affiliated with any mentoring resource organizations?

Yes, we are affiliated with MENTOR and MentorNY and have received the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS) designation, ensuring we follow best practices.

I cannot currently commit to a long-term mentorship, but I would still like to be involved. Is that possible?

Yes! Sometimes we have students who need to be rematched later in high school. Outside of mentorship, there are many ways that volunteers can help, either by working directly with our students or through other avenues.

FAQ For Community

What is Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar?

Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar is a private, nonprofit organization with a 24-year history working with students in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy high schools. Our mission is to provide specialized programs, mentoring, professional guidance, and academic and financial support for qualifying high school students in the Capital Region. By assembling a network of business leaders, educational advocates, and dedicated volunteers, promising youth are provided opportunity and access to higher education that may be otherwise unavailable. We are a registered 501(C)(3) organization with EIN 14-1823014.

What is 518 Elevated?

518 ElevatED is a private, nonprofit organization with a 24-year history working with students in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy high schools. Our mission is to provide specialized programs, mentoring, professional guidance, and academic and financial support for qualifying high school students in the Capital Region. By assembling a network of business leaders, educational advocates, and dedicated volunteers, promising youth are provided opportunity and access to higher education that may be otherwise unavailable. We are a registered 501(C)(3) organization with EIN 14-1823014.

How is the organization funded?

We are a private, nonprofit organization with all funding generously provided by individuals, foundations, and corporate partners.

Where does the money go?

Donations to our Pathways to College program help us deliver essential programs that give students the skills and tools they need to help navigate the complex college process and provide equal opportunities to access and achieve their higher education goals. Through this support, students are matched with an adult professional mentor to provide social-emotional support along the way.

What does it mean to sponsor one of the students?

Sponsors commit to making a $10,000 investment in one student’s future. The donation can be made in one lump sum or over four or five years. In addition, we devote $4,000 to our Pathways to College program for students while they are in high school, which provides essential tools such as tutoring, AP course fees, SAT fees, SAT prep, career awareness activities, college campus trips, mentoring, as well as continued guidance and support once they are in college. The remaining $6,000 is designed to help students with extra college expenses through a $750 stipend each semester of college while working towards a bachelor’s degree. In addition, sponsors receive regular updates highlighting student achievements and academic progress. Learn more about Student sponsorship here.

Can I raise money via a crowdfunding platform, like Facebook?

Yes! Fundraisers through social media platforms are a great way to raise money and awareness for 518 ElevatED. Send an email to info@518elevated.org with your name, contact info, and your Facebook fundraiser link. We will then send you an illustration of the impact these donations have on our students’ lives that you can share with your online community!

My company has a gift matching program. How can my gift to Sponsor-A-Scholar get matched?

Once you donate, let your employer know. The Human Resources department typically handles these transactions and can let you know the next steps. In addition, most companies have online matching gift portals. Companies usually match donations at a 1:1 ratio, but some will match at a 2:1, 3:1, or even a 4:1 ratio. If you’re not sure if your company has a matching gift program or which organizations are eligible, check with the Human Resources department, or reach out to us at info@crsas.org.

My company has a gift matching program. How can my gift to 518 Elevated get matched?

Once you donate, let your employer know. The Human Resources department typically handles these transactions and can let you know the next steps. In addition, most companies have online matching gift portals. Companies usually match donations at a 1:1 ratio, but some will match at a 2:1, 3:1, or even a 4:1 ratio. If you’re not sure if your company has a matching gift program or which organizations are eligible, check with the Human Resources department, or reach out to us at info@518elevated.org.

Can I donate online with a credit card?

Yes, secure credit card donations are accepted online. You can set up monthly recurring payments to make investing in the community even easier.

Why should I get involved?

518 ElevatED was founded on the belief that post-secondary education is the gateway to financial security and personal achievement. Unfortunately, higher education attainment rates among low-to-moderate-income, first-generation to college students tend to fall behind their more financially secure peers. Through ongoing educational, social-emotional, and financial support, our program breaks down systemic educational barriers and gives students the power to decide their futures. Access to education and resources are essential components to decreasing generational poverty and increasing economic equity.

How can I get involved?

518 ElevatED has many volunteer opportunities for individuals or groups with varying commitments of time. More information is available here or reach out to us at info@518elevated.org.

How can my business/organization/college partner with 518 Elevated?

518 ElevatED is open to partnerships with like-minded organizations. Reach out to Laura Marx (lmarx@518elevated.org) to explore how we can work together.

You have come to the right place!
Capital Region Sponsor-A-Scholar is now:
518 ElevatED!
New name, same amazing program.