In response to the injustice on display across the country over the last year, Focus began a process of reflection and research. With the goal to understand inequality in our organization and industry, as well as how we can work to support a more equitable future, we developed an actionable plan to create change.
Though that process is still ongoing, one of the goals identified by our organization is to create a workforce which more accurately reflects our community. The lack of diversity in the CRE industry has deep roots, and one cause is inequitable access to quality education and opportunities for minority students. With that in mind, Focus engaged with several community organizations, whose goals were aligned with ours, to partner in our efforts to provide opportunities where we can.
One of those organizations is Chicago Scholars, whose vision is a vibrant Chicago powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood. To deliver on that vision, Chicago Scholars trains and mentors academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities. Over the last 25 years, Chicago Scholars has paved the way for many in our community, with 83% of their scholars graduating from college, compared to only 48% of their peers.
In addition to a $10,000 donation from Focus, the organization has partnered with Chicago Scholars in other ways. Focus employees have participated in the New Scholar Selection Day, where they volunteer their time by interviewing potential scholars and selecting the best and brightest for the program.
Focus is also taking part in the Emerge Summer Career and Leadership Program, an 8-week summer internship program for college students from under-served communities in Chicago. The program pairs students with area businesses and augments a traditional summer internship programming with additional requirements for both the student and company. In addition to traditional internship programming, students who are a part of the Emerge program also benefit from off-site career and leadership development programming, which further supports them on their journey towards college graduation and eventually a career.
As an Emerge partner, Focus is also expected to go above and beyond for our Chicago Scholar interns. In addition to providing a high impact internship experience, designated employee mentor and consistent feedback, Focus also had to show our commitment to Chicago Scholars’ READI (Racial Justice, Equity, Accessibility, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiative. This commitment requires that all Emerge program career partners not only share in the goal to support scholars throughout the Chicago Scholars life cycle, but that they also show a commitment to the READI goals of the organization.
Focus’ first Emerge intern begins the program this summer and as only one aspect of the company’s commitment to a more equitable future, our partnership with Chicago Scholars represents the first step in an ongoing process of change.
If you would like to learn more about how Focus is working to create lasting change, or to become an ally in our pursuits, please reach out today.
To learn more about how you or your organization can get involved with Chicago Scholars, visit their website.