Celebrating a Decade With the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Delaney EarleyPartnerships, Student & Mentor Spotlight

WITS programming is rooted in our three core values—consistency, empowerment, and community. Since 2010, volunteers at the Federal Reserve Bank have embodied these values and worked to establish an evolving community at their Workplace Mentoring program with students from Fairfield Elementary Academy.

At a recent program visit, I spoke with one student-mentor pair who are entering their third year of partnership: Di’Anna (an 8th grade student at Fairfield) and Bernadette. They took the time to reflect on how both the program, and their own selves, have developed over the last few years.

Why did you choose to get involved with WITS?

Di’Anna joined the Workplace Mentoring program in the 6th grade after her best friend informed her that you get to read every week with your mentor and it’s “actually fun!”

Bernadette has always loved working with young people and was particularly drawn to WITS due to its “focus on reading.” At Workplace Mentoring, students engage in shared reading with their mentors for 30 minutes before choosing to either continue reading or to receive support on their homework.

What convinced you to stay involved?

Di’Anna has been “hooked ever since” she first met Bernadette. She expressed her continued excitement for the beginning of the program year, as she cannot wait to see her mentor again after the summer apart. Di’Anna remarked, “knowing that [she] gets to see Bernadette every other week keeps [her] coming back.”

Similarly, Bernadette has loved getting to build a multi-year relationship with Di’Anna. She commented on how wonderful it has been to watch Di’Anna develop a love for reading. Di’Anna added that she found reading to be “boring at first” but has since realized that “sometimes it can be funny, sometimes serious, dramatic…there’s a lot of variety.” Bernadette believes that WITS is a great and accessible volunteer opportunity within her workplace community.

How has WITS developed during your time in the program?

Besides an ever-changing array of books to select from, both Di’Anna and Bernadette have greatly enjoyed the increase in interactive activities at program. They found that the variety in activities and conversation-starters have helped them to build and strengthen their relationship. Bernadette was also very excited about the recent implementation of “Switch Day.” On this day, program took place at Fairfield Elementary instead of the Federal Reserve Bank, allowing students to share their school community and daily life with their mentors.

Looking Ahead

Just as Di’Anna and Bernadette have built a consistent and empowering relationship together at Workplace Mentoring, so has the Federal Reserve Bank been a dependable and dynamic partner in our literacy programming over the last 10 years. WITS would like to thank the Federal Reserve for their continued support of the students of Fairfield Elementary and we are looking forward to another decade of meaningful programming together.