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Approximately 90% of EMERGE students identify as first-generation college students and lack meaningful professional career and social networks. To help level the playing field, the EMERGE Mentor Program was launched in 2016 with the help of Houston Philanthropists, Laura and John Arnold, to connect EMERGE students to leading Houston-area professionals and community volunteers. Since inception, the program has helped expose our students to life-changing experiences, opportunities, and new areas in Houston, and mentors have successfully been able to establish life-long transformational relationships with some of our city's most talented youth.


Over 70 percent of students at the nation’s most selective colleges come from families in the top income quartile. Just 3 percent come from households in the bottom quarter.    This phenomenon, often referred to as under-matching,” has long-term consequences for high-achieving students from low-income communities. Unequal access means less affordable college options, lower persistence and graduation rates, fewer opportunities after college and lack of upward mobility. EMERGE bridges this access gap by connecting our students to some of Houston's most influential leaders. Our Mentor Program sparks meaningful relationships that help strengthen our student's ability to build strong networks and social capital to achieve their college and career goals. 

Erin Patterson
Community Volunteer 


Our program connects high school seniors with Houston-area leading professionals from across all types of industries and different personal backgrounds. The goal of the program is for students to develop unique and life long relations with mentors who support their personal growth and expose them to life-changing opportunities. 



  • Mentors are expected to attend a virtual program kick-off event in the fall and an in-person end-of -year celebration in the spring. 

  • Mentors should expect to commit to creating a meaningful connection with their mentee through monthly check-ins and meetups.



  • Mentors should expose their mentee to new cultural, culinary, and education experiences that they would otherwise not have access too. 



  • The EMERGE Mentor Program is a valuable resource for EMERGE students and is proven to help increase their social capital and career networks. To help us serve more students and create additional opportunities for them to thrive, please consider making a meaningful gift to EMERGE. To do so you can go online or send us a check by mail


There are various ways you can get involved at EMERGE:

The EMERGE Mentor Program connects high school seniors with Houston-area leading professionals from across all types of industries and different personal backgrounds. The goal of the program is for students to develop unique and lifelong relationships with mentors who support their personal growth and expose them to professional opportunities. The Mentor Program runs for one academic year, and mentor recruitment begins in April prior to the start of the academic year. 

The purpose of this opportunity is to provide our EMERGE mentees with an opportunity for real-world observation of a particular industry in order to help guide their college major selection, gain valuable insight into work culture, create an opportunity to network in their field of interest, and provide a space to ask career-specific related questions.

Career panels are fantastic opportunities to share your insights and experience in a particular career/industry with EMERGE students. Do you have a wide network in your field? We'd love your help in coordinating a career roundtable. Do you prefer to just share your own story? We'd love for you to speak on a panel. 

If you're interested in any of these volunteer opportunities at EMERGE, please complete the survey linked below.
 For more information about our program, please contact Director of Individual Giving Ally Peterson at


Laura Arnold 2mg.jpg

Laura Arnold
Founder, Arnold Ventures

Harvard University
Yale Law School


“When the mentorship program was just an idea, it was guided by the possibility of unlocking opportunities for advancement that were not available to EMERGE fellows within their existing community. There was a wealth of talented and passionate leaders in Houston waiting for a chance to share their experiences and insights with these students and by catalyzing this network, we could realize the true potential of EMERGE fellows. After the initial pilot, the program accelerated, and today we have a wonderful network of professionals and community leaders investing in the next generation. I am so proud of each and every student I’ve mentored, not just for their academic achievement, but for their personal growth, ambition, and willingness to go further and aim high.”


Wilber Dominguez
Swarthmore College
Stratford High School, SBISD

"Laura was a super motivational and insightful mentor, and a crucial part of my preparation to go to college. Her advice about the social shock that came with moving to a new place helped me navigate my early college career, and to this day I still take her advice to heart. She made me feel comfortable and ready to take on the challenge of adapting to an entirely different environment at a PWI. EMERGE did a great job at preparing me for all the logistical mazes that I encountered going into college, but it was the mentorship program connecting me to Laura that truly helped me feel comfortable with that social/cultural shift."



If you have any questions about our program, please email Director of Individual Giving Ally Peterson at


How do I become a mentor?

Volunteers need to be nominated by someone else or self-nominate. Once nominated a volunteer may be invited to apply. Applicants who move forward will be asked to complete a background check.

Who would I be matched with?

We match using student and mentor responses to their applications. Our matching process considers various factors including personality, hobbies, academic and professional interests, participant preferences, and more. 

What is the time commitment for a mentor? 

Our program is a year-long commitment. We expect mentors to create meaningful connections with their mentee through monthly check-ins and meetups. We recommend planning on 2-4 hours per month. 

What if my mentee has a question or problem I don't know how to help with?

Please connect with an EMERGE staff member know. They will have additional resources for you and your mentee. All mentors also receive a training packet with additional information. 

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