Making a Difference in Our Community: Inspiring Our Youth Through Mentorship

Filed Under: C+R News


Angela Roberts

Vice President, Administration & Project Support

I hope that you were inspired by our Cristo-Rey blogpost a few weeks ago where I shared the success of one of C+R’s corporate social responsibility initiatives. This next partnership I want to tell you about has been a meaningful one in ways that we had not imagined.

First, let me start with this. . .ask any of our employees, “What is one of the things that you like most about working at C+R?” Each person will invariably mention the sense of family. C+R boasts an environment where our employees build strong relationships with each other, not just from working on research projects together, but also through the family spirit which permeates our company’s culture. It’s an attribute that is intrinsically woven into the C+R brand; it’s a feeling that the company has always made a conscious effort to nurture within our walls and through our efforts to give back to our community.

Another youth-focused organization that we started working with in 2017 is iMentor. iMentor’s motto that “Every Student Deserves a Champion” is what drives them to manage a program that enables adults to mentor high school students with the goal of getting them into college. As a corporation, C+R sponsored a lunch and learn informational session and advocated participation from its employees. In response, 13 employees have volunteered for the 3-year commitment to help 13 mentees from four of Chicago Public Schools’ high schools…

“Last October, 13 C+R employees began a three-year 1:1 commitment to CPS high school students from iMentor’s partner schools. We are proud that so many team members are taking this on, and we have quickly become a top recruiter. iMentor is thrilled, too, sharing thirteen mentors is outstanding – the biggest single year response we’ve seen from a company this year! C+R has been a great partner in helping iMentor put even more students on a path to college.”

– Katie Stearns, Senior Director, iMentor, Corporate & Community Engagement

Participating high schools are in designated low-income communities, where most students will be first-generation college graduates. And, YES, I did say “graduates,” because this commitment is real. Our mentees benefit from our sharing of information about our own experiences with getting into, and working through, college, including all the ups and the downs. Each mentor is committed to engaging his/her mentee minimally once a week for thirty minutes using the iMentor platform. Here, the mentor engages in online conversations with the mentee to discuss topics related to choosing an appropriate college for their chosen path. Mentors are open to anything the mentees want to share about happenings in their lives. These weekly engagements provide an opportunity for the mentee and mentor to establish a trust bond. This bond aids in creating a more comfortable environment during the 2-hour, in-person session required each month. During a typical session, our mentors will eat dinner with their mentees and take part in various activities with other mentor/mentee pairs. The experience has been a rewarding one, not only for the relationship-building aspect of the mentor/mentee pairing, it’s also serving to fortify that feeling of family we value here at C+R. A few comments from our employees:

I really appreciate C+R organizing and sharing these initiatives. It provides a convenient way to volunteer and give back. I love the idea of giving back and helping to better the surrounding community.

Working with my mentee has really opened my eyes to some of the struggles CPS students and first-generation students face. Hearing about it on the news and seeing it in person/having a personal connection brought new perspective to these issues. I like having this connection to my mentee and feel good that I’m giving back.

This experience has affected me in a positive way. It has helped me see things from a different perspective and has given me the opportunity to help someone reach her potential. I have seen a change in her view towards education which helps justify the time invested.

And, from the employer side, this teamed approach to volunteer service and giving back helps employees’ morale, making them feel good about C+R. . .

I like that C+R is taking on such initiatives. I enjoy working for a company that cares about making a difference in helping today’s youth.

This unique manner of volunteering time, experiences and talent is new to most of the mentors here at C+R. So, we’ve started a monthly brown-bag sharing session during lunch where our mentors (partners, VPs, directors, analytic and support staff alike) discuss their mentoring experiences. And, employees are also feeling more connected to each other. . .

I think that C+R participating in iMentor has also built camaraderie among the participating employees. This experience has me talking with C+R employees I never really talked with or interacted with before. It’s fun and engaging to have this shared experience to connect us.

We continue to enjoy and treasure some unforgettable experiences and unique opportunities with our CSR initiatives, like this one that our Visual Reporting Manager, Rebecca Garnache, shared with her mentee. We’ve been pleased with the positive effect on our youth as well as the impact our service has had on our C+R family. We feel that the positive image of corporate commitment in giving back to the community has proven invaluable for our employees, our company and our extended family.

Stay tuned for our next post when we take a look at our last and longest running CSR initiative.

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