On the first and third Tuesday of every month, twelve business men from the Manhattan chapter of New Canaan Society (NCS) share stories and a meal with eighteen boys for life and vocational mentoring at Harlem Village Academy High School (HVA).
The program aims to cultivate life skills, expose inner city students to educational and career options, and help them develop professional relationships and networks. Relationships between mentors and proteges mature during small group mentoring during dinner twice a month between two men and three boys. Generally, the weekly format includes an icebreaker or other fun, social activity; 15 minute presentation from one of the mentors; table conversations and dinner.
The principal has asked to expand the program for girls at the school.
It all began in spring 2014 when a dozen NCS volunteers participated in the HVA Career Fair on April 30, 2014. They came representing the HVA Alliance, a collaboration between NCS, KING, and Young Life Harlem facilitated by 20/20 Vision for Schools.
The Alliance provides a tangible opportunity for business executives to respond to one of the City’s greatest injustices – the historic failure of public schools to educate the urban poor for generations despite promising equal access to quality education for all – by creating professional and mentoring relationships that develop life skills and open doors to possibility for inner city students. The first fifteen months of the Alliance included an initial ten-week Beta last spring, followed by a full-academic year Pilot (Sept 2014 – June 2015).
The NCS executives come from various industries including finance, engineering, real estate, law, politics, and more.
Katie Dubiel, former director of student life at HVA, expressed her gratitude on behalf of the school: “Thank you for sending so many great volunteers to help at the Career Fair. They were fantastic! The students loved speaking to them. I will be emailing all the volunteers as well, along with student feedback and photos, but I wanted to first send a HUGE thank you to you and Aswan for getting together such a professional crew. I hope this is just the beginning of a great partnership.”