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
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.
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
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.
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
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,