Innovative eMentoring Program Launches in Detroit to Support Student Growth in Reading and Writing

Press Release – DETROIT – July 31, 2017 – This summer Motor City students between third and fifth grade are connecting one-on-one with adult eMentors from around the country. This program, coordinated by Libraries Without Borders and Cricket Media, and implemented in partnership with the Detroit Public Library and Matrix Human Solutions uses the new CricketTogether platform to enhance student learning in the classroom and beyond.

Students are paired with employees of multiple partner companies to read intriguing articles and exchange thoughts about the content, and life, building one-on-one virtual learning friendships in a safe, collaborative environment. Mentors provide the catalyst to build student literacy, critical thinking, and real world problem-solving skills, as well as increase students’ understanding of careers and the world beyond their classrooms.

Employees remark that their CricketTogether student pen pals help them be better parents, friends, aunts and uncles. They say they are more aware of what kids think and how they express themselves. The eMentors also said they see their own communications skills enhanced as they think more deeply about what they’re reading and how to best to communicate their ideas.

The project is funded by Sony Corporation of America, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Chromebooks for the students were provided by Google.

Libraries Without Borders saw the platform’s potential to equip other community leaders with tools to expand their impact. “It is our goal to find the great local nonprofit organizations, and to expand the efficacy of their services by equipping them with new tools,” said Allister Chang, executive director of Libraries Without Borders. “We want to support our local partners to innovate without risk. In this case, we were deeply impressed with what Matrix Human Services and the Parkman Branch of the Detroit Public Library were already doing, and saw tremendous potential for them to expand their reach and impact by equipping them with the CricketTogether platform.”

Companies providing employee mentors are attracted to how flexible CricketTogether’s online Employee Engagement program is. It enables company employees to easily and remotely volunteer as an eMentor from anywhere, at any time. With a commitment of just a few hours per month, eMentors are making meaningful and life-changing impact as a role-model and friend, inspiring students with their unique professional and personal real-life experiences, while challenging students to change the way they see the world — and themselves.

Nina Zolt, founder of Cricket Media, said, “CricketTogether takes our mission of maximizing educational equity and teacher empowerment through digital media to a new level. Building on what we have learned from more than 20 years of experience offering students and teachers the opportunity to combine great content with access to caring adult role models, this new platform creates an environment in which students are more motivated to learn as they discover life beyond their neighborhoods, exploring potential careers and interests. This learning experience is fully digital and accessible 24/7—managed in the cloud in a manner to provide safety and security for students, along with the ability for schools and districts to scale quickly and efficiently.”

This initiative is launching at a time when literacy rates in Detroit are widely acknowledged to be some of the lowest in the country. Students who are not reading and writing at grade level by the end of fifth grade are less likely to catch up and realize academic and personal potential.

Many attempts to improve student literacy have missed some of the most important elements: personal connection, conversation and role models/mentors. In many schools, the focus on standardized reading tests has served as the sole criterion of literacy progress and, consequently, elementary school literacy programs have become mechanized and test-driven rather than content- and meaning-driven. Many students do not have the opportunity to pause on a point that they find interesting when reading a text to further explore the questions and ideas that may raise. Students also may not understand how their studies pertain to their future; the importance of literacy skills to higher education and future employment.

The Libraries Without Borders and Cricket Media eMentoring Program began June 26 and continues through August 9. Plans are currently being developed to expand one-on-one eMentoring opportunities for hundreds of other children across Detroit.

To learn more about CricketTogether, visit

To learn more about Libraries Without Borders, visit


About Libraries Without Borders
Libraries Without Borders is a 501(c)3 non-profit organizations whose mission is to expand access to informational, educational, and cultural tools for disadvantaged communities. Libraries Without Borders won the Google Impact Challenge in 2015 and the International Literacy Award from the Library of Congress in 2016.

About Cricket Media
Cricket Media, Inc. is a global education company providing award-winning content and safe and secure collaborative learning networks. Cricket Media’s 11 popular media brands for toddlers to teens include Babybug®, Ladybug®, Cricket® and Cobblestone™. Cricket Media promotes education equity through its free global community, ePals, and CricketTogether™, its 1:1 eMentoring program safely combining Cricket content, caring eMentors, and a powerful collaborative learning platform. Cricket Media serves millions of teachers, students and parents in over 200 countries and territories through its platform and NeuPals, its joint venture with China’s leading IT services company Neusoft. Cricket Media also licenses its content and platform to top publishing and educational companies worldwide.