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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Corporate Focus: BP America


WITS hosts two after-school programs with Holden Elementary with BP America. Thirty eager students board the bus and take a field trip downtown every Tuesday to work with passionate and committed BP employees who volunteer as literacy mentors. At BP, students are introduced to a corporate atmosphere and the notion that they too can one day work in a building overlooking the city.  Thirteen third and fourth graders work one on one in WITS Workplace Mentoring  Program (WPM) and 17 fifth and sixth  graders participate in Workplace Mentoring + STEM (WPM+STEM).

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Corporate Focus: Drinker Biddle


Since the 2013-2014 school year, WITS has partnered with Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (DBR) for weekly WITS Workplace Mentoring sessions. Whereas the majority of WITS programs send volunteers into schools, the Workplace Mentoring program brings students to corporate offices in the loop to read and complete homework with volunteers, and get a glimpse of what it might be like to work at a financial institution, marketing agency or, in this case, a law firm. The program provides some students with their first experience riding an elevator or viewing the city from thirty seven floors up.

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