As part of longstanding commitment to the community, PRWT has completed the third year of a four-year mentoring program working with students throughout their scholastic career at Martin Luther King High School, one of the city’s more challenged schools.
A team of eight PRWT managers began working with a group of 9th graders during the 2016-17 school year at MLK. Those students have just finished their junior year of high school, and PRWT has been with them throughout their high school journey. The company leadership wanted to follow the same group of students through the four-year experience.
“The agenda we bring to the students varies,” said PRWT’s Director of Philadelphia operations, Shirlene White. “We go as a group once a month for 3-4 months out of the school year. We bring subjects designed to guide these students and help prepare them for solid futures. They are active participants in the sessions. We also offer ourselves up for guidance. We have students who reach out to us for counseling. ”
For their junior year, PRWT’s topics were focused on post-high school prep readiness and the process for entering college as well as financial intelligence. Topics included making an informed choice among college, military service or in-demand jobs they could consider right after high school like plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. The PRWT team went over how to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and other financial basics.
“We cautioned them about the credit card invitations they’ll soon be receiving before they even have a job and how you have to pay back student loans,” White said. “We told them it’s OK if they haven’t made decisions about what direction they plan to go. We even talked about a gap year that some individuals take. We also performed mock interviews with the students and gave them critiques, as well as reviewed the importance of social media in today’s times when you are applying to colleges.”
The 25 students in the PRWT group are in MLK’s honors program.
“We are invested in these students’ growth, and we have seen a lot of growth. We have met some dynamite young people,” White commented.
The project has complete support from management, starting with CEO Malik Majeed.
“This project is very dear to our hearts,” Majeed said. “We chose MLK because we wanted to make an impact. We are a minority-owned company and we think about diversity all the time. King is considered a high risk high school. We picked it because we know how important it is for these students to see examples in front of them of people who look like them in management positions and running an organization.”
After their 10th grade year, two of the students worked for the company in a summer jobs program last year.
“We had taught in 10th grade the importance of networking, connecting and building relationships. We then gave them an option whereby they could work through the city’s summer jobs program in which we would pay the salary or work directly for us and get paid considerably more,” White noted.
PRWT has two more MLK students coming to work for the company this summer. They will work in back-end services in the lockbox department, which is very similar to PRWT’s back-end banking.
The PRWT team will complete the four-year cycle next school year. CEO Majeed has approved a plan for the students who are moving onto college or trade school to receive a stipend to be used toward tuition.