Corporate Focus: Aon

On Tuesday mornings, volunteers from Aon travel to Chicago’s South Side to read aloud with their students at Mays Academy. Since 2009, Aon has partnered with WITS through the Mid-Day Mentoring program. Often excited and eager to meet with their reading mentors, Aon volunteers are greeted each week by a group of 18 third grade students with a lot of personality. Whether sharing an adventure with Nate the Great, learning about volcanoes, writing poetry, or showing off a new choreographed dance, Aon mentors provide students with structured developmental experiences and the space to learn while being themselves.

Paul Callero, an Associate Director at Aon Benfield and WITS Associate’s Board member, has volunteered in the Mid-Day Mentoring program for the past four years. Paul shared some of his experiences about being involved with WITS and why volunteerism is important to him.

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School Focus: Talcott Fine Arts & Museum Academy

Since 2004, Talcott Fine Arts & Museum Academy has been a partner of WITS. Located in West Town, the school serves 528 students from Pre-K to eighth grade. For 12 years, WITS has entered Talcott’s doors providing early childhood summer programs, kindergarten programs, mid-day mentoring, and after-school programs. Every Thursday, four of our community volunteers head over to the school’s library on the third floor of the building to read with their individually-assigned kindergarten buddies. The library is a prime space for WITS students to work on their reading skills. It is a comfortable site composed of glossy-wooden flooring and royal yellow walls that extend along shelves of endless literature. It’s a radiant space with several tall windows that captivate the outskirts of the city while expelling subtle rays of sunlight into every corner of the room.

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Board Member Spotlight: John Martin

I initially started on the Board of Directors for Boundless Readers (BR) eight years ago.  I joined BR because the mission was to help CPS teachers teach the love of reading to their students.  We did this by providing leading-edge professional development for the teachers who were awarded the Rochelle Lee Teacher Awards.  Then the students would receive an in-class library, from which they could take out books year-round.  There is probably no better day each year for me than the day that those books are delivered to the classroom!

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WITS on the Weekend: Program Recap


Snow in April couldn’t stop 60 CPS students and 30 WITS volunteers from visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo during a recent WITS on the Weekend field trip. Well-bundled and chatting excitedly, they explored Chicago’s free zoo for two hours, snapping photos, hunting for baby animals, and taking notes in their “field guides.” For these students, what could have been a morning spent playing video games on the couch was instead an opportunity to explore their city and learn about their world.

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Corporate Focus: Morgan Stanley

WITS 2016, Brett Bulthuis

Since 2001, Morgan Stanley has been a committed partner with WITS. Powered by the volunteerism of over 70 new and veteran mentors, Morgan Stanley serves 30 students in fourth through sixth grade. To provide the most opportunity for their employees to spread the love of reading with students, Morgan Stanley maximizes their impact in Chicago by hosting the Workplace Mentoring program at two of their office branches. Each week, students from Otis and McClellan Elementary Schools are welcomed downtown to share stories, complete homework, and develop proficiency as readers.

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School Focus: McClellan Elementary School


Since 2010, McClellan Elementary has partnered with WITS.  Located in the heart of Bridgeport, volunteers from the Chicago White Sox take a Wednesday walk to read with McClellan 3rd Graders. Over the 6 years of programming, WITS volunteers have read with over 250 students, providing over one thousand hours of literacy support. Built in 1881, McClellan serves 318 students in pre-kindergarten to 8th grade with one classroom per grade. Spread out over 4 floors, the McClellan building could be the prototype for older CPS schools: warn wood floors, wide black stairs, spacious rooms with built in cabinets, creaky doors and hallways, and banks of windows with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline.

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