A mentoring program for first-generation prospective college students 

(click here for Spanish language page) 

Partner Up is a mentoring program to support Port Washington high-school students who plan to pursue a college education and will be the first in their families to do so. The program will offer assistance to the students as they navigate the college application and decision process. PARTNER UP currently operates independently of the local school system. It was developed by Long Island Together (LIT) in partnership with experienced volunteers comprised of career and education professionals, members of outreach organizations, and active parents.  




Long Island Together, founded in November 2016 and based in Port Washington, N.Y., is a group of activists who seek to reshape social and educational systems to help make them equitable, diverse, just and humane. LIT’s systems-based work is focused on advancing the wellbeing of communities and families in Port Washington. It is a fully volunteer-based organization. The need for a program to encourage and assist high-school students who are first-generation prospective college students became clear from LIT’s work with local families.


HOW ARE MENTEES IDENTIFIED AND SELECTED?                                           

PARTNER UP requests nominations from local CFBOs (community and faith-based organizations) and school guidance counselors of students who meet the program’s criteria. The students must be Port Washington residents, currently possess a GPA of at least 2.5, and express a strong commitment to the program. Mentees must be rising juniors in high and undergo an application and interview process. Priority is given to students who express reasoned interest in working with a mentor and who currently lack a similar relationship. A parent or guardian must co-sign the application.

To apply click here:


PARTNER UP supports children of all faiths, races, ethnicities and backgrounds.


WHO ARE THE MENTORS?                                                                                             

Mentors are volunteers with substantial relevant experience with the college decision process. They include educators, career or guidance counselors, and parents who closely guided their own children. Mentors are asked to commit to one (academic) year of mentoring to their assigned student, seeing them through their junior year of high school, with the opportunity to continue for a second year during the student’s senior year. Mentors are required to maintain strict ethical standards and respect the right to privacy of their students. Mentors must submit a detailed application that includes character references, and agree to any requested background checks. Mentors, it should be noted, are NOT acting as personal guidance counselors, tutors, or psychological or spiritual advisors, no matter their professional experience. Their role is to assist and support the student – to be a cheerleader – and to encourage the student to take ownership of, and move responsibly through, the college decision process.



HOW DOES THE PROGRAM WORK?                                                                                         

The program is designed for rising juniors who would be interested in working one-on-one with a mentor during their last two years of high school. The initial commitment is one year and there will be a process to re-up for senior year that will take into account participation level and GPA maintenance. Both mentees and mentors are required to attend an Orientation program. Mentors and mentees must meet at least once a month as well as maintain regular contact via email and text (minimum of weekly). Mentors must participate in occasional virtual meetings with other mentors and PARTNER UP. Mentees will be expected to attend relevant seminars or workshops available at the Port Washington Public Library. Mentors must utilize only credible and vetted resources from PARTNER UP and the high-school guidance department.

NOTE: Due to the pandemic and resulting pressures on families, the program has launched with a small number of seniors with plans for juniors to begin in early 2021. 



Listed in alphabetical order are members of the PARTNER UP planning committee, all of whom are volunteers.


Javiera Arenas –PWPL ESOL department

Marisa Fasciano – Argyle Consulting

Deborah Harari – Our Lady of Fatima Outreach

Kimberly Keiserman – Long Island Together

Kim Nauer – FAFSA / New School

Pamela O’Connell – Long Island Together

Analia Quispe – Long Island Together

Marivic Restivo – Long Island Together

Lynn Steinberg – AGATE

Elena Vesselinov, Ph.D. – Queens College, CUNY

Nancy Ziselman – Best Fit Counseling


For further information please contact:

Marivic Restivo,, 917.612.3691

Pamela O’Connell,, 516.509.6465

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© 2016 by Long Island Together