Class learning about e-mentoring


Teal open book
CricketTogether classroom celebrates e-mentor letters
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To connect, support, and sustain 1:1 eMentoring relationships that empower every child to unlock their full personal and academic potential.

Three young Students pointing at laptop
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Children in grades 3–8 supporting each child at a critical time in developing their foundational academic skills, self-confidence, and self-concept.

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Children in grades 3–8 supporting each child at a critical time in developing their foundational academic skills, self-confidence, and self-concept.

Three young Students pointing at laptop

Welcome to CricketTogether

Welcome to CricketTogether, the mission-based, mentoring-for-children initiative of Cricket Media, Inc. As you can see from Our Mission and Our Focus, we have a passion for helping children and hope that you will join us in that pursuit. Together we can make a difference!

CricketTogether believes…

If children, particularly those in underserved communities, build 1:1 relationships with eMentors through an engagement cycle that promotes ongoing connection, support and sharing around quality content and daily life,

Then, they will experience an enhanced sense of future potential along with greater engagement in learning, increased self-confidence and enhanced critical thinking and communication skills.

Technology makes it possible to effectively connect children to mentors remotely at scale to reach far more children in need.

Young people with mentors are shown to learn more, earn more, are healthier for long, and are more likely to avoid negative influences.

In fact, the impact of mentoring is so strong that
0 %
of people who were mentored want to mentor themselves.

Our Objectives

CricketTogether builds…

Positive Functioning:

  • Academic (grades, attendance, test scores)
  • Emotional well-being (happiness, self-esteem, life satisfaction)
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Stress Resilience
  • Learning curiosity and engagement (self-directed curious learners, ambition, growth mindset)
  • Greater understanding of careers and career paths
  • Relationship building

CricketTogether outcomes…

Short Term Outcomes: Increased self-confidence; improved communication and literacy skills; increased content knowledge, positive attitude toward learning; improved perceived academic confidence, increased number of positive relationships, stronger understanding of healthy relationships, improved future orientation/hope, increased understanding of career paths and career skills

Long Term Outcomes: Decrease academic problems (truancy, grade retention, dropout); increased community and school engagement; improved health and well-being, rewarding social relationships, cultural competence (understanding and forming relationship across differences)

Our Team

CricketTogether Senior Vice President of Education Products Laura Woodside

Laura Woodside

SVP Educational Products
Bringing deep experience in the education publishing and collaborative digital learning products industries combined with classroom teaching experience, Laura is responsible for educational products at Cricket. Laura brings skilled leadership in global online collaborative learning programs and product development, online mentoring, K–12 Education, Literacy and Program Management. Laura is passionate about education equity and with her team, strives to deliver experiences that change lives. She is an education professional with National Board Teaching Certification and a MS in Reading Education from The Johns Hopkins University. She lives with her family in Brookeville, Maryland.
Cricket Media Director of Education Products Cindy McGrath

Cindy McGrath

Director of Education Products
Cindy is the Director of Education Products for the CricketTogether team. With over 11 years of success in the education and business fields, Cindy served as a former educator and product and innovation manager in the non-profit sector. Recognized as a Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year and certified as a Trauma Informed Practitioner, Cindy brings years of classroom and school-based experience in the Title I, private, and alternative sector. Cindy is a Multiplying Good, Jefferson Award leader and Greenville’s 25 Most Beautiful, for transformative community impact. Cindy has a BA in Ministry Leadership Studies and Non-Profit Leadership from Palm Beach Atlantic.
Abiyu Diro

Ab Diro

VP Technology
Abiyu (Ab) Diro is a technologist with over 20 years of experience in software development and web infrastructure, with an emphasis on web media. Ab has also worked in such diverse fields as financial portfolio management, web analytics, social gaming. As a consultant, Ab has built a video CMS system for AOL Studios, wrote a casual game app for iOS and helped build a social game engine used by several games on Facebook. As co-founder and CTO of startup Bubbl Ab was responsible for designing and managing Bubbl’s video clipping technology before Bubbl was acquired by Cricket, where he is responsible for development of educational products. Ab holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mohamed Hendawi

Mohamed Hendawi

VP Engineering
Mohamed (Moe) Hendawi is responsible for developing tools and software products. He has over 20 years of software development experience in such diverse applications as PC and social video games, data visualization, and media management systems. Moe has been involved in a number of start-ups at an early stage and spent several years at Electronic Arts working on SimCity and The Sims. Independently, he worked on social games for the Facebook platform. Moe holds a BS/MS in Electrical Engineering and Computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
CricketTogether Director of Program Management Sarah Zolt-Gilburne

Sarah Zolt-Gilburne

Director of Program Management
Her experiences working in a wide diversity of industries/fields (among them: copy editing, service industry, feminist mentorship, freeform radio, and program management) have rendered Sarah versed in many different operational/organizational “dialects.” She has made a career of delving deep into institutional systems and helping organizations cultivate more efficient mechanisms and processes. At Cricket, Sarah works with the VP of Educational Products and the Development Team to evolve both the company’s programs/products and the coordination/management of those programs/products. She earned her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, with a concentration in philosophy of language and its intersection with translation, gender, and human rights.
CricketTogether e-Mentoring Program Manager Emily Rauer

Emily Rauer

eMentoring Program Manager
Emily coordinates the CricketTogether and TryEngineering Together programs and facilities the student, teacher, and mentor relationships associated with the programs. Emily earned her M.A. in Elementary Education at Marymount University, Arlington VA in 2013 and was an elementary education before transiting into education management. She has extensive experience managing a wide variety of diverse programs that includes K–12 audiences as well as Senior Citizen continuing education. Emily has also written and published an illustrated Children’s book about the importance of cyber safety and cybersecurity for elementary-aged children.
Safinaz Khalefa

Safinaz Khalefa

Quality Assurance Specialist
A Software Tester certified by both Egyptian and American Software Quality Boards, Safi has worked in Quality Assurance for over 8 years, across many industries—including pharmaceuticals with Pfizer, storage management with Bank of America, speech recognition for Alexa, and recently education. Safi’s commitment to delivering inclusive products designed to meet diverse capabilities shines in her passion for digital usability and accessibility. She currently resides in Ashburn, Virginia with her husband, two boys, and maybe soon… a cat!
CricketTogether Vice President of Corporate Development Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson

VP Corporate Development
Michael Peterson serves as Cricket's Vice President of Corporate Development with a focus on Cricket eLearning platforms including CricketTogether eMentoring, multimedia content and publishing, and language eLearning programs. He brings cloud and SaaS solution expertise from his leadership roles at data-driven companies including Echo360, GridPoint and Neustar. Michael studied international relations, history and computer science at the University of Virginia. He enjoys music ranging from classic rock to classical orchestral and chamber performances. Michael resides in Vienna, VA, with his wife and family.
Nina Zolt

Nina Zolt

Co-Founder & Chief Content Officer
Prior to co-founding Cricket Media, Inc., Zolt founded In2Books, where she led the development of a research-tested 21st-century skills eMentoring program. Her goal was to improve the literacy of students in some of the nation’s most struggling schools by positively impacting students’ motivation to read, write, and think and by helping teachers improve literacy instruction through professional development. Zolt went on to co-found ePals, a K–12 company that uses a digital platform to connect millions of children in 200 countries for purposes of language learning and cultural exchange. Using the success of the digital platform, two other programs—CricketTogether and TryEngineering Together—were developed to engage students in life-changing learning relationships.

Our History

Our beginnings: We began as In2Books, a nonprofit that used paperback books and snail mail for correspondence between students and mentors, with a focus on improving literacy and expanding the world beyond students’ neighborhoods. From 1998–2004, In2Books grew from 3 classes to serving over 60% of D.C. elementary schools. In 2004, the program demonstrated efficacy for students, mentors, and corporations in these ways:

  • > 5,000 students increased standardized test scores in reading
  • > 90% of mentors returned year after year
  • Corporations voted In2Books their most popular volunteer experience 

Our Timeline: The following is a timeline of accomplishments as In2Books evolved to CricketTogether, and then expanded with TryEngineering Together and the Virtual Mentoring Portal:

Based upon the impact of the nonprofit In2Books on the students it served, a mission-based for-profit company, In2Books, Inc. (now Cricket Media), was formed to build the technology infrastructure needed to scale our learning initiatives and reach more children/students.
In 2 Books logo
The first digital version of In2Books was introduced, serving 10,000+ student/eMentor pairs in over 20 states, and earned awards for technology and learning.
In2Books won the Codie award for best ELA instruction.

An award-winning magazine line, Carus Publishing, with a vast library of short stories and articles, is acquired.
The In2Books program was updated and released as CricketTogether, using articles from the Cricket magazines, instead of books.
CricketTogether logo connecting curious minds
CricketTogether won ISTE Best of Show.


TryEngineering Together was co-created by Cricket Media, and IEEE, the world’s largest professional engineering organization.
The Learning Together Project fund (a 501c3) was established in partnership with the Hopewell Fund, offering a 501(c)(3) path for donations.
Hopewell fund logo
CricketTogether receives 2019 National Corporate Mentoring Honor Roll recognition.

CricketTogether named a finalist for Best instructional Solution—CODIE awards.

Partnering with Northrop Grumman Foundation, TryEngineering Together expands to serve middle school students, grades 6–8, with a STEM focus.

The Virtual Mentoring Portal was launched in partnership with MENTOR and iCouldBe in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling the reconnection of mentor/mentee pairs across the country.
Virtual Mentoring Portal CricketTogether and Mentor for ages 12 and under
MENTOR recognizes our co-founder, Nina Zolt, for her lifetime contributions to mentoring.
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Learning Together Project Fund 501(c)(3)

Through the Hopewell Fund, the Learning Together Project Fund offers a 501(c)(3) path for donations.

About TryEngineering Together™

As part of the global commitment to develop a robust STEM workforce for the future, Cricket Media, Inc. and IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization advancing technology for humanity, partnered in 2017, to create TryEngineering Together. TryEngineering Together leverages the deep STEM knowledge of IEEE, Cricket’s award-winning STEM content all delivered through the CricketTogether eMentoring platform.

About Cricket

Cricket Media, Inc., the parent company of CricketTogether, is a global education company creating high-quality print and online learning products for children, families, mentors, teachers, and partners that improve learning opportunities for everyone. Led by our 9 award-winning children’s magazines and our customizable research-tested collaborative learning platform, we are committed to creating and supporting innovative learning experiences that help children safely explore and engage with their expanding world.