All posts by WITS

Words to Guide the Year by Drake Elementary & CBOE

In 1999, CBOE welcomed Drake Elementary School students to their downtown corporate offices for the very first time, creating the Workplace Mentoring program. Today, 20 schools partner with WITS through the Workplace Mentoring program; and Drake students continue to meet with their always supportive CBOE mentors. The students who participate each week are exceptionally talented and bright young minds who, in addition to reading, show their creativity on a weekly basis. To start the year, Drake students and CBOE mentors reflected on 2016, set their intentions for 2017, and chose a word to guide their year. See the photos below.

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Corporate Focus: Deloitte

WITS incorporates positive reading experiences into the lives of Chicago public schools students.  At the heart of each WITS program are the committed volunteers, who contribute their time and energy to build relationships with these students, giving the literacy support they need to develop a passion for reading.

Through the Workplace Mentoring program, students meet after-school with caring volunteers from corporate offices to practice reading aloud and receive homework help. Maria Seimenis, lead-volunteer from Deloitte, reflected on her experience as a literacy mentor and shared insights on why Deloitte partners with WITS.

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WITS Program Launch 2016

WITS 2016, Brett Bulthuis

The first day of WITS volunteer programs are not unlike the first day of school – for both mentors and students. There’s palpable excitement and wide eyes, but also a few nervous glances and quiet “hellos.” I’ve had the privilege of visiting a lot of these “first days”  over the past four years and it always renews my sense of purpose in our organization. When we say we are in the midst of launching 60 programs, we also mean we are in the midst of launching thousands of new relationships between students and their mentors. It’s amazing – and a bit overwhelming – to stop and consider for a moment.

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Founders Awardee Spotlight: Lili Ann Zisook

WITS is proud to honor 14 individuals who laid the foundation for creating the organization we are today.


“WITS is such a special program. I’m so glad that it has flourished in the way that it has because it is something that affects so many lives.” Lili Ann Zisook, a former teacher, has been involved with WITS as volunteer, Board Member, and Emeritus Director over the past 25 years.

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