The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) supports high school students in the South Bronx in attaining life-sustaining careers through early career exposure, development of in-demand professional skills and career mentorship. ELP initially piloted with one school (Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, or LSFT) and expanded to four schools in 2021: LSFT, Comp Sci High, Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics and Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School.
We supported a further expansion of ELP – creating a C-Suite mentorship program first conceived by Heckscher with guidance from ELP. This program was carried out via a unique partnership between for-profit employers — led by JPMorgan — and other nonprofits (Opportunity Network and Here to Here). ELP students showing substantial leadership potential are mentored by C-Suite executives. Notably, there are thousands of mentoring programs in this country, yet no program exists which seeks to directly involve C-Suite level leaders and these high potential underserved high school age youth – this one does. Executives mentor the students through a “pod” model in which 2-3 other company professionals of various levels, backgrounds and experience will also act as mentors. The involvement of the senior most business leaders in a pod with more junior employees spreads the responsibilities of mentorship and serve as an example to other employees to become involved and join a “pod”, thus greatly expanding the program; in essence building a mentor program from the top down.