Every other Thursday during the school year, there is a special “showing” at the Comcast office in White Marsh, Maryland. Known as the “Littles” and the “Bigs”, these “stars” are students from Elmwood Elementary School in Baltimore County and Comcast employees. The students get a special “sneak preview” of the corporate world, participate in games and other activities, and eat pizza.
“I really like coming here,” said 11-year-old Ronald Adams. “We get to play games and eat. I also learn about money, adding numbers, reading, and how to start a business. One day, I would like to open up a restaurant. I also learned that if you want to open your own business, you have to work hard and have enough money to buy the things you will need.”
Marcus James, a senior analyst in billing systems for Comcast, mentored Adams at a recent session and added, “The biggest benefit is that this program allows me to make a difference in my own way. The things my parents instilled in me, I can present to these kids. That’s very gratifying, and I love doing it.”
The effort is part of Comcast’s workplace mentoring program – Beyond School Walls (BSW). Launched in Baltimore in 2014, BSW helps at-risk children reach their fullest potential through one-to-one matches with Comcast employees. The program introduces children to jobs at an early age, allowing them to experience what it means to work for a corporation and the educational requirements needed to achieve professional success.
January was National Mentoring Month, and Comcast partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake to celebrate the importance of mentoring with the students from Elmwood Elementary School.
National Mentoring Month is a campaign held each January to promote youth mentoring in the United States. It was inaugurated in 2002, and is spearheaded by the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The campaign celebrates mentoring and the positive impact it can have on young lives.
“I have been doing this for three years,” said James who regularly mentors 11-year-old program participant Jaden Smith. “Initially an email went out from Comcast asking people to mentor, which was something I was interested in doing anyway. I am really glad that I did.”
According to Comcast officials, during the past two years the program has grown drastically, with local Comcast employees serving as mentors to 14 students from Elmwood Elementary School. Data shows that BSW “Littles” have better grades, are less likely to skip school and are more likely to graduate. Comcast says it runs the nation’s largest workplace mentoring program in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Brad Palazzo is Director of External Affairs for Comcast’s Beltway Region. He also serves as one of the programs’ “Bigs” and played an integral part in launching the BSW program locally.