Tuesday, June 13th, 2023
Last Thursday, it felt like New York City was in low power mode, as people hunkered down to avoid the smoke from the Canadian wildfires. But at SECOND by Kimpton Eventi Hotel, the energy was high, as nearly 300 people showed up to support StreetWise Partners at our Annual Partnership Breakfast.
And show up they did!
StreetWise alumni showed up to share their stories about how mentorship helped them change their lives.
Sponsors and donors showed up to help us raise over $370,000, which will be used to transform the lives of another 500 individuals in the coming year.
And Global Atlantic Financial Group showed up to expand their commitment to StreetWise with a $1 million investment and increased efforts to volunteer and focus on qualified graduates for potential employment opportunities at the company. “At Global Atlantic, we devote a substantial number of resources to attract, retain and develop exceptional talent. The talent coming out of StreetWise is impressive and their enthusiasm for learning is unparalleled,” said Dan O’Shea, Chief Administrative Officer at Global Atlantic. “The social impact that StreetWise is having is tremendous, and so we are doubling down on our commitment.”
Across the board, attendees both new to and familiar with the StreetWise community shared that they felt inspired to get involved: as donors, as corporate partners, as volunteers, and more.
The life-changing power of mentorship
At StreetWise Partners, we’re working to create the most diverse, empowered, and capable workforce for today and tomorrow — a mission that was on full display at the breakfast through stories of transformation from former mentees.
We learned about Drita, who despite having a computer science degree, struggled to enter the professional world when she came to the U.S. from Albania in 2014. When she joined the StreetWise program, she was working as an office cleaner. Now she’s a Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin.
We also heard from Yajaira, a college student who worked as a Starbucks barista. With guidance and mentorship from her StreetWise mentor, she secured an internship at one of the Big Four accounting firms this year.
And we listened to the moving, compelling story of Jamar, who worked at an amusement park in Coney Island as an assistant manager for the food department after he graduated college. With the advice, tools, and networking opportunities he got from StreetWise, he now works as an account executive at NBC Universal, “living the life he didn’t think was possible.”
“I’m doing the work on my end,” Says Jamar, “but sometimes you need that mentor to give you that push and open doors that may be hard to open on your own.” Jamar joined us in person to share his personal input about the value an investment in StreetWise adds to a mentee’s life.
We shared stories on stage, around the room, and on a brick wall showcasing stories of impact from mentees, mentors, volunteers and staff. You can see these stories on our new Instagram account @MyStreetWiseStory. Everyone in attendance witnessed the power of StreetWise’s mentorship program to help individuals launch their careers and transform their personal and professional lives.
Honoring the work of corporate partners and mentors
At the breakfast, we honored corporate partner Global Atlantic Financial Group with the StreetWise Champion Award and debuted a video highlighting our deep, holistic partnership with Global Atlantic. We showcased program graduates like Vanessa Loo, who is now an Investment Accounting Analyst at Global Atlantic who says, “Before coming to StreetWise I was in a job I wasn’t happy with. StreetWise helped me to a better path by learning the skills we need in order to improve in the job search. Because of them, a lot of things have changed. I really enjoy being here at Global Atlantic and I really love their culture and values.”
During our two-year partnership, 100 Global Atlantic employees have volunteered with us, dedicating hundreds of mentoring hours. They’ve hosted training and hiring events, and they’ve hired our graduates as both interns and full-time employees. Through their financial investment and unwavering commitment to our mission, our job seekers, and volunteers, Global Atlantic is helping us connect graduates to jobs faster, at higher starting salaries.
As Padma Elmgart, Chief Technology Officer at Global Atlantic and a StreetWise board member, shared in accepting the award, “Growing up, my parents worked two jobs and yet we lived almost on the bread line,” she said. “I learned early on that hard work, intellect, and grit are important but the most critical ingredient for financial security is opportunity.”
StreetWise also honored Qasim Isphahani with the Outstanding Mentorship Award.
Qasim has volunteered with StreetWise for eight years, officially mentored 10 job seekers, and touched the lives of over 100 graduates. As Drita shared on stage, Qasim “is not just my mentor — he is my friend, my brother, my coach, my advisor.” And it’s a two-way street. While mentees gain so much from the mentorship, mentors also benefit from the experience.
“I feel that I take away a lot more from these mentoring relationships than I give,” said Qasim. “I feel energized after every session and every event. Being engaged in StreetWise programs and witnessing the transformation that mentees have made and continue to make during the process has made me a believer in this movement.”
Will you join the movement?
Thank you to everyone who was and continues to be a part of our success. To everyone in the room and to everyone who is part of the greater StreetWise community, you are the fuel that powers the success of our incredible mentees.
Our program works: 70% of graduates become fully employed, and average starting salaries increase from $10K to over $50K annually. But we can’t do the work without our community of mentors — mentors who give their time, resources, and connections as one #MyStreetWiseStory exclaimed, “to help mentees recognize their strengths and accomplish their goals – and hopefully their dreams!”
We’d love to have you join our community of volunteers to support the next generation of job seekers and be a part of closing the opportunity gap.
StreetWise Partners currently has a variety of volunteer opportunities available in New York and Washington D.C., including our Mentorship program, Mock Interview Day, and Speed Networking. Sign up to learn more today.