Social impact is more than a part of our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. It is woven into the fabric of who we are.
While there is a lot we can say about our employee engagement and environmental initiatives, the focus of this report is the impact tied to our charitable commitments, specifically through our grant programs.
Many years ago the firm adopted a policy of contributing a standing percentage of our revenue to charitable endeavors. As our revenue increases, so does our charitable giving.
Since the early days of LP, our commitment to social responsibility has been integral to the structure and purpose of the firm. We feel an immense responsibility to have a positive impact on the community in which we work and live.
Our primary mission is to provide our clients with an unparalleled experience. It is our business strategy and number one goal.
This strategy has allowed us not only to stay true to our goal: it has afforded us the opportunity to have an impact in our community that is felt beyond the organizations with whom we partner. None of this would be possible without the support and loyalty of our clients.
This report showcases the ways the institutions we partner with are making an impact. We proudly support their work with our time, talents, and funds. We hope their stories encourage and inspire you.
Thank you for allowing us to support organizations that are making a difference. We cannot do this without you.
Robert A. Romanoff
We are fortunate to have steadily increased our charitable engagements over the past three years. With the increase in funds, the impact on the organizations we support is evident.
of LP professionals agree the firm’s commitment to CSR is important
completion awards given to Chicago’s Community Kitchen’s graduates
of students attending the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center via Opportunity Scholarships are attending it for the first time
of Cristo Rey students’ tuition is earned through the Corporate Work Study Program
meals packed during LP’s annual volunteer day at the Greater Chicago Food Depository
of Chicago’s Community Kitchen graduates are currently working (with 84% eligible for benefits)
of Cristo Rey graduates are accepted to a 2- or 4-year college
students and teachers attended the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center via Opportunity Scholarships in 2017
How and why the bulk of our charitable commitments are focused on three organizations with a common impact.
The bulk of LP’s charitable endeavors are earmarked for our grant program partners:
The work and mission of each is uniquely inspiring, but the reason we chose them is the same. We want to partner with organizations that have a strong multiplier effect. The work they do reaches beyond the persons they come into contact with, transforming generations and communities through the individuals they assist.
We are inspired by the work these organizations are doing. We want you to be as well.
Read their stories on the following pages and learn about the impact they are making.
LP grant recipient since 2005.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens is a job training program through the Greater Chicago Food Depository that prepares unemployed and underemployed adults for jobs in the food services industry.
There was a nervous buzz and excitement in the air. Moms carried “Congrats!” balloons, teenagers held bouquets of pink roses, and cameras were poised and ready to go. The lights dimmed, and music began to play: it was the same song the Chicago Bulls enter to at the start of each home game. As the graduates of Chicago’s Community Kitchens entered the soaring room under a chandelier made of silver utensils, their loved ones cheered. This was their graduation day, and everyone was ready to celebrate.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens (CCK) is a 14-week job training program through the Greater Chicago Food Depository for unemployed and underemployed adults. Students spend the first 12 weeks in the classroom learning skills that will prepare them for a job in the food services industry. The last two weeks are spent at an internship site — one of dozens of restaurants, cafeterias and catering companies CCK has partnered with throughout the Chicagoland area.
Like most graduation ceremonies, CCK’s included a student speaker. When it was his turn, Jermaine Nelson talked about how the program has set him up for success.
“CCK has brought me so much, but one of the things I’ll always take with me is my certification,” he said. “My new education in hospitality has changed my outlook on my self-worth. I feel like I have value, I know that I have value, I have a valued skill set.”
CCK has graduated more than 1,200 students, an impressive number considering that 90 percent of graduates are still employed a year after graduation.
Donnell Cline, a graduate from CCK Class 55, spoke about what his graduation years ago meant to him. He came to the program in 2010 on a recommendation from his parole officer.
“I thought it was going to be just another program. I went through a lot of programs in my life. But it was actually the program that changed my life,” he said.
After starting as an intern with J&L Catering and accepting a full-time position, he gradually worked his way up the ranks, then became a kitchen assistant and Production Coordinator at the Greater Chicago Food Depository — all positions that never would have been possible without the skills he learned at CCK.
CCK has been a LP grant program recipient since 2005, with the firm having doubled its grant amount in 2018. LP has seen how completing the program impacts students’ lives and wanted to help propel CCK’s graduation rate closer to 100 percent. In 2018, LP began offering a completion award for students who graduate the program. Its impact was immediate.
Beyond providing extra motivation to finish the program, the completion award has given some graduates much-needed assistance when starting full-time employment. LP received a thank you note from a graduate, explaining how he planned to use it:
“I would like to thank you so much for the $500 check. I am going to use this money for car insurance, so I can drive to work. It means so much to me that you would take such an interest in my future.”
Travel is actually one reason many students struggle during and after the program. At the graduation ceremony, Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, spoke about a CCK student who rose every day at 4 a.m. and took a walk, a bus ride, a train, another bus ride, and walk just to get to class every morning.
The achievement of finishing the program was not lost on anyone in attendance. Many times, the friends and family who have gathered are witnessing their loved one graduate for the first time, from anything.
In recognition of that achievement, each graduate was given their very own embroidered chef’s jacket. While practical in its use, the jacket held a much deeper meaning.
“A chef’s jacket is a symbol of accomplishment and professionalism. By graduating from the Chicago’s Community Kitchens, you have proven that you are ready for the rigors of the culinary industry,” said Anne Kearney, CCK Manager of Student Services. “You have the skills needed to get the job done and the jacket you now wear makes that statement. So graduates, wear your jacket with pride. Let it be a constant reminder to yourself that you belong here. And please remember every time you put it on that you’ve earned this.”
With the pomp and circumstance over, the graduates and their families celebrated in the way most Greater Chicago Food Depository events end — with a fabulous meal prepared by none other than the future graduates of CCK’s program.
LP grant recipient since 2006.
The Corporate Work Study Program subsidizes the cost of Cristo Rey’s tuition, allowing students from Spanish speaking families with limited financial means to afford a college preparatory education.
Sylvia still remembers the day she received her acceptance letter. The thick envelope from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School arrived on April 1.
Her acceptance into the college preparatory school on Chicago’s lower west side wasn’t a given. Sylvia’s two older brothers both attended the local high school, so she and her parents thought that’s where she would go too. But when a friend of Sylvia’s wanted to go to an open house at Cristo Rey, Sylvia decided to go with her.
“Once they talked to us about everything, I was like, ok, it won’t hurt to apply. And throughout the process I would get more excited thinking about it. I don’t regret now trying because (Cristo Rey) has brought me a lot of opportunities,” she said.
A soft-spoken 17-year-old, Sylvia had never dreamed a college preparatory high school education was possible. But the Cristo Rey’s model is different.
Since its founding in 1996, the Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP) has been instrumental in the success of the school and its students. Every student must participate in the program that places them at a work study site one day a week. The work study program provides two distinct advantages to students: it subsidizes the cost of their tuition while also giving them real world work experience.
Sylvia is one of seven Cristo Rey students currently working at LP. Sylvia, along with another student, works exclusively with LP’s Real Estate Practice Group. One other student works with the litigation group and the remaining four work with LP’s records department. LP has been a corporate work study partner since 2006.
Working at a law firm felt completely foreign when Sylvia first walked through LP’s doors four years ago.
“They were much older and very professional, and I was just a 14-, 15-year-old starting, and it’s also a law firm. They are all really educated people,” she said.
But over time, that changed.
“Throughout the years, I’ve been more comfortable with myself. I feel like I’ve built a stronger bond with these people, especially with my department. They’ve helped me personally with my shyness making me who I am today, motivating me to try my hardest in school and staying on task with myself too.”
Staying on task has been more important than ever this year. Being that it’s her senior year, Sylvia is knee-deep in college applications.
Given that students are from Spanish speaking families with limited financial means, they are often the first person in their family to be accepted to college, let alone graduate high school. For many, the college application process can be daunting.
In 2016, LP’s associates started a mentoring program. They wanted to be a resource for these students who may not know anyone else who has applied to college. In addition to helping navigate application requirements and federal aid
programs, they’ve provided guidance with drafting personal essays and accountability when the process becomes overwhelming.
Sylvia has appreciated all of the support and encouragement she’s received from LP.
“Everyone here is always asking me about college. I know they are excited for me. It’s great to have that support. They make me motivated to apply. It has helped me a lot,” Sylvia said.
She’s considering applying to the University of Michigan, Georgetown, Marquette, Boston, and the University of Washington in Seattle – schools much further away from home than she would have considered before attending Cristo Rey.
During the summer of her sophomore year, Sylvia took part in a biomedical research program at Harvard University. That program was Sylvia’s first time away from home. It was her first time on a plane.
Through Cristo Rey’s summer programs, she also has helped build houses and serve communities in West Virginia and has seen first-hand how medicine is saving lives in India.
Sylvia is determined to study pre-med, and whether she gets her bachelor’s in nursing or decides to go for her doctorate, she knows she wants to work in pediatric medicine. It’s a path she gets to choose.
And that is what Cristo Rey has given her – the ability to dream bigger and to make decisions. Sylvia has seen a world of possibilities open up to her. Her education has provided the foundation to pursue whatever she wants.
LP grant recipient since 2018.
LP’s grant program funds visits to the Museum for student groups from economically disadvantaged areas via the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
Rita Mathais was in charge of the green group. Twenty or so tenth grade students from Belvidere North High School would be taking a tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center this morning, and Rita, a Museum docent with more than a decade of leading tours already under her belt, was ready.
She greeted each student individually by name, shook their hand and welcomed them to the Museum. It was a warm introduction to a place with somber connotations. With muted lighting, exposed duct work and bare cinder block walls, the Museum’s entry is intentionally dark. It set the tone for the students to learn the story of the holocaust via the Karkomi Holocaust Exhibition, the Museum’s permanent collection and main exhibit.
When student groups come, Rita and the other docents – who all undergo intensive training – are prepared to meet them where they are. Students’ knowledge of the Holocaust ranges from the most cursory of understanding to having just completed the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Education Mandate.
Before Rita started the tour, she asked the simple question, “Why are you here today?” The students looked down at their shoes or nervously at one another and waited for someone to respond. They were a group of tight-lipped 16-year-olds, but that didn’t stop Rita, a former middle school math teacher. She continued, “I can tell you’re thinking. I know there is something in our world today that you don’t think is fair. That you don’t think is right. That I know you want to change.” She urged them to think about that as they toured the Museum.
The Museum holds an impressive collection of 25,000 documents, photographs, and artifacts, including a German rail car of the type used in Nazi deportations. But the name — the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center — is almost a bit of a misnomer. While the Holocaust was the main catalyst for the Museum’s creation, its mission is educating visitors and inspiring them to identify intolerance and hate in today’s world and inspire action. The Holocaust is the teaching tool employed to convey its mission: Remember the past. Transform the future.
LP’s grant has been earmarked to support the Opportunity Scholarship Program over the next three years, aiding in the Museum’s goal to send more than 12,000 economically disadvantaged students annually through the museum. The Opportunity Scholarship Program subsidizes the cost of admission and transportation to the Museum for low-income schools where more than 50 percent of the student population qualifies for the National School Lunch Program.
Careful consideration has been taken to ensure the message can relate to all audiences. While high school aged groups are taken through the Karkomi Permanent Exhibition where the brutality of the Holocaust is not hidden, elementary-aged groups are taken through the Make a Difference! Youth Exhibition, which was created specifically for children ages eight to 12. Present day topics like bullying are examined through storytelling and interactive exhibits, all designed to foster leadership skills, empathy, self-esteem and positive decision making. Visitors also make a pledge to be an upstander, not a bystander.
And that is what the Museum hopes to do. Inspire students to think differently and take action in the face of racism, intolerance and bigotry. Jaimee Shearn’s students from Streamwood High didn’t even wait until they got back to school to start making
plans. She wrote to the Museum after her students’ visit:
“The whole bus ride home was a reflective conversation in which we discussed the issues that we see at our very own school and community and how these issues could be resolved. Some of the ones that the students felt were the most urgent were: lunchroom segregation, mental health awareness and the use of derogatory words to attack another person based on their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture or religion (whether in mean spirit or just ‘joking’). Students agreed that we should choose one of these issues to work on creating some sort of action plan for. We will likely be using our school news system to launch a campaign on one of these issues to promote positive alternatives to the current climate at our school.”
On any given weekday, the Museum can host roughly 600 students for tours. On the day Belvidere North visited, the students had the opportunity to meet and ask questions to a Holocaust survivor. Barney Sidler, now 85, stood at a podium and recounted his memories of the Holocaust, as well as the journey that reunited him with the remaining members of his family and brought him to the U.S.
At the end of his lecture, he grabbed the microphone and walked around the room interacting with the students and answering their questions, never shying from the sometimes painful truth of his past. He stressed that despite the horrors he lived through, his love of people and his positive attitude made him the person he is today.
Leroy, the most vocal of Rita’s group, raised his hand to ask a question to Barney. “What advice do you have for kids our age?”
Rita beamed. “He was listening,” she said. And that is why Rita dedicates her free time to being a docent. Even though she no longer works in a school, she wants to help today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders. The Holocaust Museum and Education Center helps her do just that.
LP’s professionals support various organizations through leadership positions and charitable contributions.
Mary Wasik is the Chair of the Board of the Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She’s also a partner in LP’s Corporate & Securities Practice Group. Mary, pictured right at the Alzheimer’s Association 2018 Reason to Hope event, has been a board member of the Alzheimer’s Association since 2012 and was named Illinois Chair in 2017.
A: The Alzheimer’s Association has three main goals: the first is to advance research. The second is to provide and enhance support for those who are affected. And the third goal is to reduce the risk of dementia by promoting brain health.
A: The Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 hot line that individuals can call whether they’ve been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s or whether they are a caregiver looking for resources. It is staffed by trained social workers. This hot line is also helpful for people who just need someone to talk to.
There also are programs that are available within the community. There are eight offices in the IL chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association where people can go in order to get information. There are programs that are online. There are also support groups that meet regularly at some of these offices in the community. And it’s that effort toward care and support that I don’t think people truly realize.
There is also a further enhanced program called Care Navigator that is available. So a family who is dealing not only with medical issues but also financial and legal issues associated with a family member with Alzheimer’s can come in and have a plan put together with a professional in order to help them understand how they might better deal with the disease and the person who’s experiencing that disease over a prolonged period of time.
A: I support the Alzheimer’s Association because my mother had Alzheimer’s disease. She was an important influence in my life, and once she passed from Alzheimer’s I decided it was important for me to find a way to use my time and talent in order to support the efforts of the Association.
During my time on the board, I have met so many people who have been impacted by this disease, and I’ve learned that the effects of Alzheimer’s are not just related to the individual who is diagnosed. There is a great impact on the family, whether or not they’re caregivers, siblings, or spouses.
More and more I meet people who are experiencing the effects of the disease at an earlier age. Some people think that Alzheimer’s is really related to an older population, but when you meet a person who has Alzheimer’s at 50 and is dealing with the potential for that disease over a prolonged period of time, you truly appreciate the fact that there needs to be something done in order to find a way to cure Alzheimer’s.
For more information, visit:
A: The Alzheimer’s Association itself is one of the largest funders privately of research that’s done with respect to the Alzheimer’s disease. It’s only behind the U.S. government and the Chinese government in terms of that effort.
The impact that the Alzheimer’s Association has had is that it is willing to make research dollars available for purposes of funding those kinds of developments that traditional medical research won’t necessarily look to, like lifestyle changes and other kinds of efforts in order to see how a person might be impacted earlier and before Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms have developed. This has spurred on the association in terms of its desire to do more to research into how they might be able to reduce the impact of dementia in people’s lives.
A: I think the best way for an individual to support the Alzheimer’s Association is to make a donation. There is a lot that can be done by the Association with the resources that are made available to it.
But more importantly, donations are often accompanied by involvement by individuals at events. There are walks that occur during the fall every year. There are other events that occur throughout the year, and being in a community of people who are all experiencing this disease and attending an event where donations are being made in support of the work of the association really gives an individual, who is interested in knowing more and participating, a true sense of the commitment and the involvement of the volunteers working with the association.
There are many organizations in the Chicagoland area that are doing an immense amount of good. So in addition to our grant partners, LP’s professionals personally support several charities, non-profits and civic organizations. These are the LP professionals who have gone above and beyond by holding leadership positions in those organizations.
Greater Chicago Food Depository
THOMAS JAROS, Real Estate
Real Estate Awards Dinner Committee Member
ELIZABETH O’BRIEN, Real Estate
Associate Board Member
MICHAEL ST. PETER, Corporate & Securities
Associate Board Member
Midwest Latin American District of Assemblies of God
MARICELA RAMIREZ, Accounting Coordinator
Women’s Ministries, Secretary/Treasurer