Business Owners Pledge To Support And Mentor Local Students This School Year
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
Local philanthropist and business owner, Early Walker, recently announced on Facebook that he was looking for a local student who needed a financial sponsor and mentor for the upcoming school year. After receiving an overwhelming response of nominations for children who could use this kind of support, Walker put out the call to other Chicago-area business owners and created the I Promise Back To School Challenge.
The I Promise Back To School Challenge encourages community leaders and business owners to unite and embrace local children by providing them with school supplies, new shoes, a winter coat, help with registration fees, new uniforms, and anything else they might need throughout the school year.
“The I Promise Challenge is pretty much an individual sponsoring a child and making sure that child is ready for his or her first day of school and the first week of school. Oftentimes, the challenges that a lot of parents face in getting their child to school that first week, especially the first day, are because of financial reasons. I felt that if I could get enough people involved we could help with that particular issue,” said Walker.
Since publicly releasing the I Promise Challenge, Walker said that he has had over 100 people take the pledge to support a child in need as they prepare for their first day of school this year. There are business owners, local politicians, clergy members, professional athletes, and community leaders who have all promised to sponsor a child this year, according to Walker.
In addition to providing financial support to children in need, Walker is asking that all of the sponsors also commit to mentoring the student indefinitely, escort the child to school on their first day, participate in a career day for the student, and sponsor a school activity sometime during the year.
“We have a violence epidemic right now and a lot of these kids need guidance and mentorship. There are a lot of kids living in single-parent homes and some who don’t even have their biological parents and are living in foster homes. Just from being in the community and speaking of some of these kids, I’ve seen that they need guidance. They need some type of leadership and mentorship where they can pick the phone up and ask someone what they would do in a certain situation. That type of mentorship can go a long way with a child that doesn’t have any type of leadership,” said Walker.
Originally, Walker was seeking children who had lost a parent to gun violence but since he has received such an abundance of sponsors who are willing to take the pledge to support a student this school year, he has opened up the nominations for both children who lack a parent due to tragedy and also all children who come from low-income and impoverished families.
To learn more and nominate a student or volunteer as a sponsor visit www.ipromisechallenge.com.