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The Same Things You Taught Me

Cycles of Mentorship through Eye to Eye
by Stephanie Yin '13, Storyteller for Good
July 3, 2014

When David Flink ’02 co-founded Eye to Eye with four other Brown students in 1998, he did not suspect that he would later find himself at the helm of a national nonprofit—much less one that is paving the way for an emerging learning rights movement.

In 1998, Project Eye-to-Eye was a group of five college students with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (LD/ADHD) who mentored elementary school students with similar challenges at nearby Fox Point Elementary School in Providence, RI. When Flink and the other students graduated, they laid the project to rest. Flink took a job at Brown’s admissions office (today he still laughs at the fact that he, with dyslexia, decided to read college applications for a living).

With his university email address still active, he was surprised to receive email after email from students looking to start their own Project Eye-to-Eye chapters. Flink decided he was being called to serve a greater need. He quit his job, moved to New York and started building Eye to Eye from the ground up — out of his apartment closet.

Today, Eye to Eye is the only national mentoring movement for kids with LD / ADHD. Through an arts-based curriculum, mentees learn to identify their learning needs and advocate for themselves. They also discover a community of role models and peers who not only understand, but in fact celebrate, each other’s differences.

In this audio story, Flink tells us about the struggles he faced going through school without LD/ADHD role models, and the strong bond he forged with one of his first mentees, Justin.