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The Foundation


Dr. Richard Caruso


How does the son of humble Italian immigrants rise to become the Ernst & Young 2006 Entrepreneur Of The Year? It all starts with a dream.

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Click here for immediate access to our latest press releases and other helpful material about the foundation and its programs.
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Staff Bios


Every dream needs enthusiastic people to make them come true. Meet the women and men that power our programs.

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Does making dreams come true sound like the perfect workday? Learn about opportunities to get involved.

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System Mentoring

Direct mentor to
protege relationship

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System Mentoring

A linear protege to mentor/
resource relationship

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Collaborative System Mentoring

A group of mentor & protoges
sharing resources & dreams

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UIF’s Mentorsphere




A comprehensive strategic and tactical pathway for those seeking a post-secondary education.

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A web-based platform of  inspirational resources for mentors and protégés.
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Connect to these innovative and powerful new tools for anywhere/any time education.

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A 360° system for assessing aptitudes and attitudes for greater personal fulfillment.

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Innovation Mentoring

Mentoring that supports the incubation and acceleration of high-impact entrepreneurs.

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While the Uncommon Individual Foundation is protégé-centric in focus, we often are brought in by companies and organizations who desire to develop a mentoring culture within their existing structures. Both for-profit and not-for-profit companies have benefited from our experience and expertise in the "art and science of mentoring." Here are a few examples.

Art & Science of Mentoring

Endeavor Case Study http://www.endeavor.org/ UIF joined with Endeavor Global to train a group of mentors and protégés on January 23-25, 2013 in Bogota, Colombia. Endeavor, a [...]

Entrepreneurial Education Case Study

Active mentoring through entrepreneurship One key endeavor for UIF is entrepreneurial success. UIF's entrepreneurial program focuses on identifying market strategies, project[...]


Uncommon Individual Foundation


80 West Lancaster Ave
Suite 200
Devon, PA 19333-0365
(610) 520-0180

Feel free to use the contact information on the left or simply email your request to info@uif.org

Closed System Mentoring



Top Down/
Mentor Led

Mentoring is traditionally characterized as a relationship where an older, more experienced person guides the progress of someone younger and less experienced. Most people think of mentoring as a one-to-one, top-down relationship that’s largely defined from the mentor’s perspective. While this style of mentoring can yield positive results, it represents only one possible model (that uses only a portion of the power of mentoring.)

Closed mentoring is an arrangement between one mentor and one protégé, in which the mentor typically assumes greater control over the mentorship relative to the protégé. Within this classic framework, the mentor is the dominant influence and the protégé is the primary beneficiary of the mentoring activity.


Closed Mentoring in Action

  • Coach > Player
  • Teacher > Student
  • Parent > Child


    Key Benefits

  • Closed mentoring can be very rewarding for both the protégé and mentor.
  • The relationship is very intimate and both members are highly invested in the protégé’s development.
  • These proprietary arrangements are often very manageable.

    Possible Limitations

  • As the leader of the relationship, the mentor typically assumes much of the responsibility. This may result in mentor burnout.
  • The protégé has little room to exercise personal initiative, which inhibits the realization of true potential.
  • Protégés limit their opportunities when they engage only a single resource.

Closed mentoring is
particularly useful in
learning situations.

The mentor acts as a teacher and assumes responsibility, while the protégé becomes a receptive student.

Collaborative System Mentoring


Everyone’s a protégé
—and a mentor

Collaborative mentoring is a sort of hybrid, combining the high investment levels shared by participants of closed mentoring with the multiple resources of open mentoring. This type of group-oriented mentoring occurs when people with unique, but complementary, dreams act as each other’s mentoring resources. In collaborative mentoring, leadership is shared among participants and each of them shifts appropriately between the roles of mentor and protégé.


    Collaborative in action

  • Professional meetups
  • Classic networking
  • Cross-disciplinary collaboration


    Key Benefits

  • Since participants share leadership, power struggles and other related conflicts are less likely to occur.
  • Multiple resources expand each participant’s stockpile of ideas, inspiration, talents, expertise and solutions.
  • With multiple resources engaged, the loss of a mentoring resource does not devastate the initiative.
  • Since participants are pursuing their personal dreams, they all tend to be highly invested in the overall initiative.

    Possible limitations

  • Inequality is a common feature of group interaction. Some members may contribute greatly to the benefit of the group, while others receive the benefits but contribute little or nothing.
  • Since participants’ goals are complimentary, members might be motivated by competitiveness.
  • Multiple resources can be difficult to manage.

Collaborative mentoring is unique in that it is often very hard to discern the line between protégé and mentor—if there is any line at all.

Open System Mentoring



Focused yet Flexible

Open mentoring is a dynamic exchange of enriching resources. In open mentoring, a single protégé employs a variety of mentoring resources and relationships—simultaneously and over time. This type of mentoring often occurs naturally as protégés take the leadership role in their endeavors and strive to fulfill their dreams.


    Open Mentoring in Action

  • Protégé > Expert
  • Protégé > Inspirational resource
  • Protégé > Child


    Key Benefits

  • Protégés who assume leadership over their mentoring endeavors are often more motivated and energized to work to achieve their dreams. The journey becomes their true magnum opus.
  • By engaging a range of resources simultaneously, protégés fortify their arsenal of skills, ideas, inspirations, and expertise. Often, they find that the resource-rich environment is superior to the value received from any single source.
  • Mentor burnout is less common when multiple resources are employed. And the loss of a mentoring resource does not devastate the initiative to the extent that it would in a closed (one-to-one) arrangement.

    Possible limitations

  • Because of the considerable responsibility and accountability placed on the protégé, this type of initiative can be more difficult to manage than a one-to-one arrangement.
  • Drawing together numerous resources to succeed, the protégé’s engagement with any one resource may be less intimate and less intense relative to closed-system mentoring.

In an Open Mentoring system, the protégé is the key initiator, process director (and re-director) and chief beneficiary.

A Fresh Look

The Uncommon Individual Foundation has worked for over a quarter-century to help dreamers of all ages fulfill their dreams. And now, we're introducing a new look that captures the [...]

On Track

Cass Wright completed two OnTrack beta tests in Erie, PA during the 2011-2012 school year. Both of the betas involved Cass taking students through 30 individual and group workshops[...]

Mastery Charter School February 2013

UIF partnered with the Shoemaker campus of Mastery Charter School in Philadelphia, PA to create an internship program, which placed 12 students in area startups. As a part of their[...]

Villanova Mentoring Program 2013

UIF partnered with Villanova’s business school to help them through our Discovery assessment program. Graduate level administrators from Villanova’s business school utilized the Di[...]

Andrew Zivic


My dream is helping students get a post-secondary education, one module at a time.

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Shari Sauer


My dream is to further the application of classroom learning to create a better world.

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Sean O'Donnell


I dream of the day that learning delivery adapts to you.

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Cass Wright


Listening to a good mentor is a must, and not an option.

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Dimitri Vassiliou


My dream is to continue helping people overcome obstacles on the way to reaching their full potential.

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Dr. John Crosby


My dream is to help individuals identify and use their strengths to reach their fullest potential.

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At UIF, success and happiness are defined on a personal basis according to each individual’s strengths, values, and achievements. We provide education to people with all kinds of dreams, teaching them how to use mentoring to take charge of their lives and reach their fullest potential. On the lifelong journey to personal success and happiness, the power of mentoring makes it possible to discover and release the uncommon individual that resides within each of us.