Monday, February 22, 2010

StreetWise Partner volunteer

As some of you know, I volunteer for StreetWise Partners on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to explain about what the organization is and what it does, because they are always looking for more volunteers and help and because I think what they do is important.

This is taken from their mission statement ( and gives a nice overview:

"Founded in 1997, the mission of StreetWise Partners (SWP) is to work with top-notch corporations to build mentoring relationships between low-income individuals and volunteer business professionals to develop workplace skills and employment networks as the bridge to a successful career. SWP operates in regions such as New York City and Washington, D.C., with plans to achieve widespread impact around the world. In our innovative 14-week training programs, SWP volunteer business professionals mentor low-income adults to help them progress along their career trajectories by attaining a new job, improving the terms of their current job or enrolling in an employment enhancing educational program.

SWP's vision is that one day all citizens will have the skills and opportunities to become economically self-sufficient and achieve their full potential. SWP also envisions a world where all corporations effectively hire, retain and advance top talent from low-income communities."

My description it is the following: The program helps low income individuals obtain a corporate type position with benefits and a potential for career growth. The program works by partnering (usually two mentors) per mentee. During the 14 week cycle, the mentees learn various computer skills Microssoft Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint along with many soft office skills. Many of the soft skills, are things that the average person working in an office would consider vital yet has never taken a class for, things like work dress code, internet searching or highlighting your skills on a resume. Specifically, we help with their goals, resume, cover letter, interview skills and impart on them many stories and tid-bits that would be considered common sense and taken for granted by most of you. As for the goals, every mentee has to create short term, medium and long term S.M.A.R.T. goals, just like in my earlier post (S.M.A.R.T. Goals) Most of the mentees for various reasons have had to complete GEDs or have been out of the work force for many years. Some are single parents, some have had to take care of sick parents and care for the family while others have been in the same field since the 80s and have unfortunately found that their jobs are now obsolete.

The StreetWise Partners program is very interesting for both the mentor and mentee, and many form long lasting friendships. Just watching your mentee's progress, seeing their devotion and watching their hard work payoff when they start getting callbacks from interviews and eventually land a job is a reward in itself. If that isn't sufficient, as a mentor you might learn a few things yourself! The majority of mentors are in their 20s, 30s and 40s and come from many varied fields with a strong representation of IT, Finance, Business, HR and other professional fiends. Contacts are encouraged by periodical group activity as well as mentor socials after the afternoon sessions.

If you are interested in volunteering, they have Saturday or Wednesday programs in NY, feel free to contact me for more information. The Saturday afternoon program is on 42nd and Madison in the PWC building. If you know someone who would be perfect for this, forward this e-mail to your friends as well.

For further information, the StreetWise Partner webpage is located here StreetWise Partners.

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