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JULY 2004

Corporate Champions
by Matilda Raffa Cuomo & Steve Larosiliere

This time of year was memorably described in the lyrics from the classic Showboat—“Summertime and the living is easy…” That’s a lovely notion but, as was noted in another classic, Porgy and Bess—“It ain’t necessarily so”

For many Americans the summer continues to be a busy time, especially for parents and others concerned about the education and raising of our children. A significant number of our youth, victimized by lagging education, are in summer school struggling to catch up, while parents, teachers, administrators and various organizations work hard preparing for what they hope to make a more effective education process in the fall.

Mentoring USA is a good example; we spend the summer recruiting large business corporations to partner with us to serve more children at risk by providing adults willing to volunteer to serve as one to one mentors to school children at risk.

Started in 1987 Mentoring USA, now the largest site based program in New York City, has proven beyond a doubt that mentoring makes a positive impact on the lives of our school children—and indeed on the lives of our mentors as well. Special training to enhance the student’s appreciation of the virtues of diversity in our Bias Related Anti-Violence Education program (“BRAVE Julianna”), nutrition education.

Our general program works with children who are at risk and designated by their teachers. MUSA is the largest mentoring program servicing children in foster care to ward off obesity in our “Healthy Children, Healthy Futures” program and “Heroic Choices” mentoring, which helps children suffering from trauma of various kinds have all proven effective. We are grateful to the generous cooperation of our corporate partners in our Corporate Champions Program.

The Corporate Champions who are part of MUSA believe they have an obligation to give back to the community, especially given the many staggering and alarming statistics of the various populations of young people we serve. Companies are not just talking about giving back; they are doing it by allocating personnel through their human recruitment departments.

According to the Business for Social Responsibility (www.bsr.com): “A growing body of evidence suggests that a company’s role in its community can be a factor in increasing profitability, strengthening company brand and reputation, elevating morale and customer loyalty… Mentoring USA’s experience with Corporate Champions confirms that conclusion. In recent years mentoring has become a favored activity for the corporate volunteers. Its benefits for the mentees have been obvious for a long time, but so have been its benefits for the employee mentor. Mentoring broadens their outlook through experiences outside of company culture and it also enables personal growth through the process of giving something back.” Overall, many of the employees feel a greater sense of well being and purpose as they see their mentoring relationships grow.

For our corporate partners, partnering with MUSA enhances the reputation of their company as good corporate citizens. Mentoring also raises staff morale and company pride, and corporate partners also find that a solid volunteerism program can be an important employee recruitment and retention tool.

Companies choose to work with us in a wide variety of ways. One of our oldest corporate partners, Bloomingdales, has their seventy employees mentoring with kids in P.S. 59 during their lunch break once a week. One of our partners sponsor P.S. 154 in Harlem, where Verizon’s employees mentor every Tuesday from 3–-4:30pm. Another organization chose to work exclusively with our foster care initiative. In the future, we plan to implement a workplace program that enables middle and high school young people from one of our many sites to go to a company and have the mentoring take place there.

Companies are enabling us to recruit actively at their corporation whether it’s setting up a table in their lobby, sending out emails to the organization or posting our volunteer opportunities on their company intranet. They are truly supporting this partnership and want their employees to get involved.

All of us at MUSA wish to express, in a special way, our gratitude to the wonderful employees at the following companies and organizations: Bloomingdale’s, Goldman Sachs, Con Edison, UBS, Morgan Stanley, NYPD, Verizon, ABC, Viacom, NYU and Cooper Union. Mentors in these corporations are in positive reflection of the quality of their dedication to the community.

The connection forged between a mentor and a mentee is one of the most beneficial bonds in a child’s life. It is a win/win situation metro-for all involved and that’s why we will spend so much of this summer developing and enhancing our Corporate Champions partnership. If you, your company or organization is interested in knowing more about our programs, or if you have any comments and suggestions please contact us at (212) 400-8286.#

Matilda Raffa Cuomo is Founder and Chairperson, Mentoring USA. Steve Larosiliere is the Recruitment Manager, Mentoring USA.



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