Charity Spotlight: SuitUp
“Today, I got to see what it was like to be an important decision maker,” says Luis, a first generation sophomore at Coalition School for Social Change. Luis just participated in his first SuitUp competition hosted by SuitUp Incorporated, an education non-profit that provides business competitions for students in low-income areas using real world brands, real corporate volunteers, and real office space.
Through SuitUp, students experience solving a realistic corporate challenge, such as designing a new shoe for Nike or creating a new phone case for Apple. They have the opportunity to interact with corporate volunteers who coach them on the marketing, financing, and strategy before helping them pitch to live judges. By the end of the day, students can see the corporate world as part of “their world” and know that job titles, such as CEO, VP of Marketing, Business Development Manager, etc. are now in their grasp.
Research shows that minority students struggle to connect academic success with viable future work opportunities. While the college graduation rate for high-performing affluent students is 74%, high-performing students of low socio-economic status graduate only 41% of the time. For the Title I students we serve, college and career readiness is so instrumental as they prepare to transition from K-12 education into higher education. Unfortunately, for many of our students, their access to the financial services, technology, or marketing/advertising industries are limited. They don’t have an opportunity to meet an individual from the corporate world—let alone go to their office and see “how the other half lives.”
SuitUp was founded in 2014 by a teacher and a Wall Street analyst to solve two problems within their respective industries – the lack of career awareness and preparedness for students in low-income areas, and a broken corporate volunteering model in corporate America. Despite the socially-conscious millennial generation joining the workforce, corporate volunteering has decreased 14% since 2006 in the US. Companies today generally lack a culture of volunteering, as events tend to be complicated to organize, unexciting and lack a perceived impact. And while some companies volunteer, they rarely participate in direct service.
Since inception in 2014, SuitUp has distinguished itself as the only volunteer organization that is truly a “plug and play” day of service. Partnering with some of the biggest companies in a variety of industries including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, NBCUniversal, American Express, LinkedIn, and UBS, SuitUp has been touted as exciting, simple, and truly impactful. A BlackRock employee said SuitUp was “…more organized than most MBA case competitions!”
To date, SuitUp has engaged more than 3,000 corporate volunteers and impacted nearly 5,500 students. SuitUp is always looking for more corporate partners and hopes to expand to multiple cities in the next two years.