Mentoring, at its core, provides a young person with an adult figure who is invested in their future. It’s someone who’s in their corner that they can look up to and help them navigate their day-to-day challenges.
For Justin, a shy high school freshman enrolled in the Stay In School initiative having a mentor made all the difference in his academic and career pursuits. A partnership between United Way of Metro Chicago, Exelon and ComEd, Stay In School (SIS) pairs local students with professionals to help them gain the skills they need to succeed.
“You know my son came to this program on a Saturday morning and when he came back he was a different person,” Justin’s mom said. “I don’t know what you said to him, I don’t know what you did, but now he is more motivated to go to school and chase his dreams.”
Mentors impart professional wisdom
When he first enrolled in SIS, Justin didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life.
Early on, he was paired with Pedro Feliciano, an Exelon employee and mentor of 12 years. Working closely with Justin, Pedro taught him how to communicate in a business setting with poise and empowered him to take control of his future by setting his own goals.
These lessons are just some of the skills the 27,000 students who’ve participated in the Stay In School initiative have learned since its founding in 2006.
Seeking to create a system of support for local students, we’ve joined forces with ComEd and Exelon to provide supportive programming, academic tutoring and mentorship opportunities to young people across the Chicago region.
“Supportive adult relationships are crucial for young people, which is why we are so proud of the partnership with Exelon and the six Stay In School participating organizations,” said Missy Carpenter, senior manager of education at United Way of Metro Chicago.
“The initiative not only strengthens the work those organizations do with youth every day in their communities, but it also brings those young people together with Exelon’s incredibly caring and talented staff, for support and guidance,” she added.
Equipping students to chase their dreams
For many young adults, having the opportunity to meet professionals who can provide career and social guidance is invaluable. The mentor relationship can inspire these youth to consider their career goals at an early age and provide them with the skill set needed to help them achieve their dreams.
That was certainly the case for Justin. After a few months of being in the program, Pedro and Justin’s family began to see an evolution. He was excited about his future and began to grab life by the horns, graduating from high school and enrolling in culinary school to chase his dream of becoming a chef.
He isn’t the only one who has experienced a turnaround after participating in the SIS program.
In his sophomore year of high school, Semetrius Holmes entered the SIS program. Much like Justin, he lacked confidence and comfort communicating with others.
Quickly, mentors provided him with internship opportunities that gave him real work experience and allowed him to develop interpersonal skills with colleagues and his peers.
“Now I feel like I can talk to anybody,” Semetrius said. “My new motto is ‘be better than I was yesterday.’”