CHA, BBBS kick off first-ever sister government workplace mentoring program

February 25, 2016 12:03 PM

Press contacts: Office of Communications – 
Chicago Housing Authority
Molly Sullivan: (312) 786-3344;;
Matthew Aguilar: (312) 935-2646;

Partnership is part of CHA’s “Year of the Youth” campaign

CHICAGO– Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones, Jr., Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Art Mollenhauer and Smyth Elementary School Principal Ronald R. Whitmore kicked off the CHA/Big Brothers Big Sisters Workplace Mentoring Program this week.

CHA is the first City of Chicago sister government agency to participate in the program. Employees are serving as mentors to students from Smyth, many of whom are public housing residents.

“Serving as a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I vowed that if I were ever in a leadership position, I would utilize Big Brothers Big Sisters to help kids in need of life advice,” Jones said. “CHA prides itself on going beyond housing, past the bricks and mortar, to help students in life and toward self-sufficiency. I am proud that we have been selected as the first sister agency in Chicago to participate in this program.”

The workplace mentoring partnership is part of CHA’s “Year of the Youth” year-long youth engagement campaign that will include unique business partnerships, internship programs and youth-related programs that focus on mentoring young people and putting them on a strong career path to college and jobs.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago helps children realize their potential and build their futures. Its vision is that all children achieve success in life.

"Collaborative relationships with organizations such as CHA are critical to our being able to carry out our mission of matching more children in need with positive, caring adults," said Art Mollenhauer, Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. "Big Brothers Big Sisters is built on a partnership model that relies on volunteer mentors, donors and key community partners to reach children in need of our services. We simply couldn’t ask for a better partner in CHA as they are the perfect conduit to connecting children and families residing in public housing with organizations such as ours.”

Employees of the CHA were matched up with students at Smyth Elementary and met earlier this year. At Monday’s kickoff meeting, they spent some time catching up before volunteers spoke about their experiences so far in the program.

"We are honored and excited to have this special partnership with the Chicago Housing Authority," Principal Whitmore said. "Many of the students at Smyth live in public housing, and so these mentorships are vital to their development and to their futures. We thank Gene for his desire to help the students of Smyth, as well as the CHA employees serving as mentors, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. We are looking forward to a great experience."

A committee was formed by Jones to help launch several key youth- focused programs. Other Year of the Youth initiatives include:

Youth Advisory Council: CHA released an RFP to fund an organization that will establish and coordinate a Youth Advisory Council. The council will provide opportunities for youth impacted by the services offered by CHA - offering input and providing feedback regarding CHA policies, programming, practice andoutcomes.

Youth Summit “If I Rule Chicago” Event: The Youth Summit will allow CHA youth residents, from across the city, to come together to discuss issues that are important in their lives and look at solutions that will be implemented in their schools and communities. Members of the CHA Youth Advisory Council will facilitate all workshops and sessions during theSummit.

100 Leaders Who Cook: The mission of 100 Leaders Who Cook is to support the education and development of youth, by raising funds to sustain their goals. One-hundred Chicago notables will “don their chef hats” to serve their mouthwatering specialties as they compete for the “Top Chef“title.