Not just an instructor: Mentoring young adults experiencing reentry

April 04, 2022

Teaching students how to fix cars is only part of Vernon Brown’s job. As an auto repair instructor at the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) in Baltimore, Maryland, he is also a mentor to the young adults in the program.

NCIA is one of 11 organizations supported through the Compass Rose Collaborative, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and implemented by FHI 360’s National Institute for Work and Learning. Its mission is to improve education and employment outcomes for young adults (ages 18 through 24) who have had contact with the criminal justice system.

Learn more about Brown’s approach to teaching and mentorship in this photo story:

Mentoring comes full circle for a Bridge to Employment program student

January 21, 2020

Jose Hernandez Morales was a sophomore at the New Brunswick Health Sciences Technology High School in New Jersey when he first met his mentor Oscar Morera. That was when Oscar, the former Head of Operations, Consumer Health and Wellness at Johnson & Johnson (J&J), shared his first life lesson with his new mentee: It is okay to fall down and to fail, but it is not okay to stay there; you need to have grit to get back up.

Jose knows he was fortunate when he connected with Oscar in 2014. Mentored youth have more positive attitudes toward school and are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college than those who do not have a mentor. But, 8.5 million youth in the United States in 2009 lacked these role models. Johnson & Johnson’s Bridge to Employment (BTE) program is addressing that gap.

Jose and Oscar were participants in BTE, a global program that works in underserved communities to connect 14-to-18-year-old students with mentors from J&J’s staff and provides activities to improve performance on college entrance exams, career exploration and 21st century workforce skills.

FHI 360 provides management for the global BTE program, offers technical assistance and resources to communities and supports community partners in capacity building. FHI 360’s National Institute for Work and Learning (NIWL)’s staff provide startup strategic planning and support to sustain more than 1,000 students annually. FHI 360 also conducts workshops for new mentors to ground them in youth development principles and how to work with teens. These activities prepare the employee volunteers to give back to their communities through building strong mentoring relationships.

From the start, Jose and Oscar had similar thoughts about what makes a good mentor and mentee relationship. Jose said that mentors need to “be really empathetic and understanding of other people's situations.” Oscar said that the relationship with Jose was “a two-way learning street.” That foundation started their relationship, which developed into a friendship over the next three years.

Jose learned a variety of skills from participating in BTE workshops that he says are skills he practices to this day. Jose credits Oscar for many of his accomplishments, which include sound study skills, application to college and a strong resume.

Attending BTE events together built their relationship, one that allowed open conversations without fear of judgment. Jose said, “Oscar is a diary that actually talks back to you and gives you advice!” Jose also felt that he had a unique mentor in Oscar. Oscar encouraged him to learn from other volunteers in the program, so Jose was able to build a wide network of mentors.

After graduating as salutatorian from high school and completing the BTE program, Jose applied to the biomedical engineering program at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. But, like many freshmen, he became overwhelmed as he began his studies. Jose talked with Oscar and others in his BTE network and found a new opportunity. J&J had launched a pilot college retention program called Pathway to Success, managed by FHI 360. Through the pilot, FHI 360 offers additional courses to navigate college, and J&J provides the students with competitive internships. With Oscar’s guidance, Jose applied to Pathway to Success and embarked on another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Following in Oscar’s footsteps to pay it forward, Jose has also become a volunteer and mentor. Through his interest in music and visual arts, he facilitated a Mexican art exhibit at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University and wants to help create more spaces where artists can share their work. In the coming months, he will mentor at a local elementary school, where he will host a Women in STEM2D (WiSTEM2D) workshop and conduct an activity he learned during a Pathway to Success summer experience. As a grateful and proud BTE alumnus, he commits himself to giving back to the program and sharing his experiences with new participants. Jose’s continued presence in the Pathway to Success and BTE programs is a daily reminder of the compassion and grit that BTE youth around the globe embody.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360

College and Career Readiness: A Guide for Navigators

This web-based guide describes steps for teachers, counselors, youth workers or mentors to take to guide young people through college and career preparation and success.

FHI 360 launches FHI Ventures, a social impact investing subsidiary

May 07, 2018

DURHAM, NC — FHI 360 has launched a new subsidiary, FHI Ventures, to invest in high-impact, early-stage social enterprises. FHI Ventures will work closely with early-stage companies that have launched a new product or service designed for social good, providing them with the support and funding they need to scale up their offerings.

“FHI Ventures gives us a new vehicle to match the ingenuity of business entrepreneurs with the capital and support they need to bring new products and services to their communities,” said Patrick Fine, Chief Executive Officer of FHI 360. “By helping small businesses scale and become profitable, we can make a real contribution to creating healthy, prosperous communities and expanding opportunities. As a human development organization with a proven track record of advancing integrated, locally driven solutions, FHI 360 has the right combination of expertise and infrastructure to enable FHI Ventures to deliver social impact worldwide.”

A critical part of FHI Ventures is its six-month Social Enterprise Facilitator program, which will address and accelerate the specific needs of each company through a customized curriculum and blended delivery model, applying a unique management approach to measure each company’s impact. FHI Ventures-supported companies will also have access to support from FHI 360’s world-class experts in health, education and economic development, as well as its global platform in more than 60 countries, to facilitate market testing and distribution. FHI Ventures will invest capital in the social enterprises and will leverage the FHI Foundation, with its long history of investing in successful social impact initiatives, to provide access to other potential investors.

“From an investor’s perspective, the main risk that early-stage, social impact-oriented companies present is whether they can stay in business and turn a profit,” said Wellington Pak, President of FHI Ventures. “The goal of FHI Ventures is to de-risk the enterprises that we work with by getting them through the ‘pioneer gap’ between launching a product and demonstrating a financial return capable of attracting additional investment.”

FHI Ventures has selected five early-stage businesses for the inaugural cohort:

  • FyodorBio — maker of a urine test that can rapidly diagnose malaria
  • Mark Labs — developer of a technology platform that helps funders quantify social impact
  • Sanivation — provider of a sanitation service to transform waste into an affordable fuel source
  • SweetSense Inc. — creator of low-cost, remote monitoring sensors designed for the global development sector
  • UrSure Inc. — producer of a patient-friendly urine test that supports adherence to HIV prevention drugs

FHI Ventures will bring representatives from these enterprises to Washington, DC, on May 10 and May 11 to launch the spring 2018 cohort and meet with the partners, investors, mentors and leaders who are interested in assisting in market positioning, scaling and acceleration. The spring class will prepare for a “pitch day” to investors in Durham, North Carolina, this fall, before the next cohort of companies joins the program.

About FHI 360

FHI 360 is a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Our staff includes experts in health, education, nutrition, environment, economic development, civil society, gender equality, youth, research, technology, communication and social marketing — creating a unique mix of capabilities to address today's interrelated development challenges. FHI 360 serves more than 60 countries and all U.S. states and territories.

About FHI Ventures

FHI Ventures is a social enterprise accelerator supporting early-stage businesses with the potential for high impact and a commitment to delivering social and financial returns. FHI Ventures works exclusively with early-stage social enterprises that have launched a new product or service designed for social good but are not yet earning significant revenue. By providing businesses with capital support, customized training and access to expertise and new markets, we position them to show viable financial returns that attract additional investment. FHI Ventures is a subsidiary of FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. Learn more at

Bridge to Employment in the Rearview Mirror: Alumni Perspective on a College and Career Readiness Program

The study examined alumni reflections on the effects of the Bridge to Employment program in their lives after graduation.

Developing the next generation of nutrition leaders in Uganda

September 05, 2017

The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) established and implemented the Uganda Nutrition Fellowship program to help the country’s graduates in the field of nutrition find jobs and transition smoothly to the workplace. The fellowship program placed graduates with host organizations, where they gained a unique mix of work experience, professional development and mentorship to promote skill-building in leadership, teamwork, communication and technical nutrition topics. Through their stories, the fellows explain how exposure to a range of nutrition topics in real-world settings was a game changer for them.

Adobe Spark Page

The Government of Uganda has recognized that reducing malnutrition is a necessary step in the path toward achieving its vision of becoming a middle-income country. To do this, the country needs a skilled, creative and innovative group of leaders. The opportunities provided by these fellowships fostered young leaders in nutrition, helping graduates develop strong skills in program design and implementation, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and accountability. Learn more about the fellowship program.

Homepage photo credit: Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA)/FHI 360

Four Pillars PLUS


The Four Pillars PLUS approach uses scholarships, teacher professional development, mentoring of girls and community participation to improve the quality and relevance of education for orphans and other vulnerable children, especially girls, in primary and secondary school.

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