September President’s Pen: When our students get opportunities, they make the most of them.

Make hay while the sun shines!  With autumn already here, this old adage reminds us to make the most of any opportunity while it exists.  Our students are certainly making the most of their opportunities.  Every week, they are out in the workplace with our job partners in the Corporate Work Study Program earning their education, expanding their professional network, and learning valuable life skills.

Consider one of our students, Emily and what her supervisor is saying about her:

 “Last year Emily expressed an interest in doing more financial projects. Therefore, she’s working with me on finalizing our corporate foundation’s materials, schedules and other documentation for our taxes. It’s a big project with a short turn-around, and she’s always up for the task. She positive, a good listener, asks questions, and is a responsible co-worker…  Emily is a pleasure to work with. We were able to successfully get her computer fully functioning, and walked through project load, short-term deadlines, longer term plans, etc… I’m impressed with Emily’s work ethic at such a young age. She continues to be a strong performer, completing tasks on time, willingness to learn something new, as well being adaptable to changing work environments.”

Wouldn’t you want to have someone like Emily on your team?  Just as Emily is making the most of her opportunity, you can take advantage of opportunities, too.

Our Corporate Work Study Program offers you the opportunity to create more opportunities for others. All of our students work in jobs that we find for them.  In addition to the great real-world experience they receive by working, students also earn about 60% of the true cost of attending CRSM.  Work-study is a defining characteristic of our school.  We are constantly in search of more jobs for our students.  We need more introductions to people whose place of business might like to have students work there.   Maybe you have been blessed with a job that puts you in front of a lot of business people everyday?  If so, help us spread the word and ask if they would like to hear more about the possibility of our students working for them.  Please reach out to me at pkendall@cristoreystmartin.org or Brian Weinberg from our Corporate Work Study Program at bweinberg@cristoreystmartin.org if you would like to make some introductions to possible job partners.  It never hurts to ask.  The program works well and we don’t need to force and “sale” – it is more about exploring the possible “fit” our program might have with a company’s needs.

Every day, our students are stretching themselves to be their academic best and, most evenings, groups of students are choosing to participate in community service.  Over 2/3s of our students are involved in some regular service activity throughout the school year – and CRSM does not require service hours for graduation.  Waukegan and North Chicago do not necessarily offer lots of opportunities but I have found that when our students get opportunities, they make the most of them.

Another opportunity for you is the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship Program “Invest in Kids” offers scholarships to low-income students to attend private schools.  All Cristo Rey St. Martin students qualify.  For every $1.00 you donate through this program, you get to take $0.75 directly off your state taxes.  If you donate $10,000 to CRSM through the program, you reduce the amount of state taxes you owe Illinois by $7,500 AND you give some talented young people the opportunity to attend CRSM.  During the donation process, you can designate Cristo Rey St. Martin so that all of your support goes to our students.  The program uses third-party Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGO’s) who then forward the donations you direct specifically to CRSM on to us.  Step-by-step instructions can be found at: https://www.cristoreystmartin.org/ways-to-give/illinois-tax-credit-scholarship-program/  If you make a donation to the program before December 31, you take advantage of the tax credit on your 2019 taxes.  Of course, if you do not want to go through the Tax Credit Program, your direct donation to CRSM will serve as a scholarship donation, too!  We are grateful for your support in anyway you want to make it.

If you use a tax accountant or advisor and they have not yet heard of the program, please feel free to put them in contact with Mary Ann Hocter (maryannhocter@cristoreystmartin.org) who will be happy to provide more technical details.

I often say that our students are our secret weapon because people underestimate just how good they are.  Young people are capable of great things.  North Chicago and Waukegan do not always have the best reputations.  There are elements in our community that give us a bad name and they seem to garner disproportionate attention but there is so much more than the news bits you might hear on the radio or see online or on TV.  Our students are making the most with what they have.  You have the opportunity to make even more opportunities available for them.  Won’t you join us and make hay while the sun shines?  Thank you!