Spotlight Encore Cleveland: JumpStart Inc.’s Encore Mentoring Program

A man and a woman look through informational materials over a table

Launched in 2013 by the Cleveland Foundation, Encore Cleveland helps to connect and fund a network of organizations to provide experienced Greater Clevelanders an array of meaningful opportunities in the community upon retirement or near the end of their primary careers. In our “Spotlight Encore Cleveland” guest blog series, we go behind-the-scenes to explore the many opportunities available through Encore Cleveland. In this guest blog from JumpStart Inc., learn about the organization’s “Encore Mentoring Program.”

There are many people in our community who are 50 and older and want to give back to help their local communities. These individuals spent decades building up business, professional and life experience—experience that can be extremely valuable to the next generation.

At the same time, there are young entrepreneurs in these same communities who are looking for a resource, a human resource who has “been there and done that” and can provide some insight and guidance to help them get to the next stage of growth.

The interesting thing is, these two groups often have trouble finding one another. Experienced individuals want to share this vast base of knowledge they have accrued over the years, but simply do not know how to connect with those who could use their assistance. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs either don’t have the personal networks to find the right mentors or can’t find mentors who truly understand them and can meet them where they are.

This problem is especially acute in communities of color, where young men and women trying to succeed in the entrepreneurial economy face significant challenges finding experienced mentors who truly understand their life perspectives, challenges and goals. Unfortunately, most well-established mentoring programs do not have substantial diverse representation. Thus, they miss many opportunities to effectively engage and mentor African American, Hispanic and female entrepreneurs.

JumpStart’s Encore Mentoring Program is designed to fill this gap. The program meets the needs of young entrepreneurs and experienced experts by providing a formal structure that matches them together. We evaluate prospective mentees/companies based on their ability to be professional, open, and responsive to coaching from volunteer mentors. We evaluate mentors on their desire to be honest with their opinions, generous with their time and mindful of not only the economic factors in play for their mentee, but also the cultural.

The Encore Mentoring Program is for all of Cleveland, but we value the diversity of human resources and are uniquely sensitive to issues of race, gender, geography and culture and community/neighborhood history. We proactively invite diversity and have set an ambitious goal to have ninety percent of the program’s mentors be African American, Latinx or female.

Encore Mentors get to give back by sharing experiences, ideas, critiques and networking connections that can make a significant impact on a young entrepreneur’s business journey. Entrepreneurs (mentees) get an experienced and trusted resource to engage them, hold them accountable and give them a much a better chance to grow and succeed.

Over time, these connections have the potential to transform communities, as more young businesses start to grow in revenue, hire people from the community, upgrade their business properties and become positive corporate citizens.

If this Encore Mentoring opportunity excites you, contact Lamont Mackley at JumpStart via phone at 216-363-3423, or via email at