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2021 Social Impact Report

Social impact is more than a part of our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. It is entwined into the fabric of who we are.

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Social Impact

LP’s charitable commitments support organizations with a strong multiplier effect, ensuring our contributions have the greatest possible impact on the community.

A Few Words from Robert Romanoff

“We can accomplish things together that we may not achieve alone.”

Robert A. Romanoff

Dear Friends,

For many of us, the past year has been one of uncertainty and renewed focus. The ongoing pandemic and its challenges have sparked reassessments, collectively and personally, of our priorities so that we can concentrate on our core values. Levenfeld Pearlstein is no different.

In addition to our focus on building strong and collaborative relationships, one of our guiding principles is the belief that we can accomplish things together that we may not achieve alone. We strive to lead by example, extending a hand up and empowering others to create their own success story. Over the past year, like previous years, we chose to support our grant partners and other community organizations, not based on any credo or belief they hold, but because they also focus on extending a hand up, empowering others to achieve success. In doing so, they create a positive impact that ripples through families, communities, and even generations.

This year’s Social Impact Report showcases this generative impact through stories of some of the individuals, families, and communities our grant programs have reached. The past two years have been incredibly challenging, but through their ingenuity and resilience, our grant partners haven’t just survived. Instead, they have thrived in expansive and revolutionary ways. 

Our grant partners, which include Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s Corporate Work Study Program, the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Job Training Programs, and the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center’s No Place for Hate initiative, were chosen because the work they do has a lasting and multiplying effect. They are innovators, teachers, guides, and advisors.

Each of our grant partners invests in diverse communities and plays a significant role in advancing social and racial justice issues. Like our grant partners, we are also committed to social and racial justice, and guided by our DEI Task Force, we are actively working to create meaningful and sustainable change with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Many years ago, our firm adopted a policy of contributing an established percentage of firm revenue to charitable endeavors. As the firm’s revenue grows, our charitable commitment increases.

In addition to our grant partners, we’re incredibly proud of and happy to support LP team members who champion their own causes independently, through significant contributions of time or through leadership positions in charitable and civic organizations.

This year LP has also provided pro bono legal services to HOPE Chicago, a revolutionary multi-generational scholarship program, and partnered with National Immigrant Justice Center to provide pro bono legal assistance to immigrants seeking asylum.

We do not share this information to pat ourselves on the back. In fact, we consider corporate social responsibility to be a baseline expectation. Rather, we share this information and these stories with you, so that you may have a deeper understanding of the exceptional organizations we support.

We’re proud to affiliate with these organizations, and we’re proud of LP’s team members who selflessly give to civic and charitable organizations that are important to them. We are inspired by the way these organizations and LP’s team members continue to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic to create a more safe and just world. We celebrate the ways they have taken the challenges of the past two years and used them to create something better.

We want you to know what you’re supporting by working with and trusting in LP. None of our corporate social responsibility endeavors would be possible without you, and we are grateful for you. By choosing LP, you have afforded us the opportunity to have an impact in our community that could not happen without the loyalty of our clients and the dedication of our staff.

On behalf of everyone at LP, thank you. 


Sincerely,
Robert A. Romanoff

BIO

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Grant Programs

The bulk of LP’s charitable commitments are dedicated to three organizations with a strong multiplier effect. These are their stories.

Grant Participant Since 2010.

Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Job Training Programs

Job training programs have expanded beyond Chicago’s Community Kitchens to prepare students for a changing job market.

Hospitality students practicing their knife skills.

“If I progress even by an inch, I’m internally happy. Because it means I learned, I adapted, and I’m ultimately getting better. 

These are the words of Briana Brewer, a recent graduate of a job training program offered by the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Since 2010, LP has supported the job training programs offered through the Food Depository to support students who are working towards breaking cycles of poverty. Job training programs have included Chicago’s Community Kitchens, which has traditionally been a 14-week culinary training program.

The pandemic upended the food service industry, however, which prompted the Food Depository to pivot and expand its job training programs. In 2020, the Food Depository’s Chicago’s Community Kitchens training program evolved from providing in-person culinary training to provide two new four-week programs – one of which is focused on customer service and other “front-of-house” skills, such as order fulfillment, and another that is focused on food handling.

Additionally, in order to meet its mission to provide job training programs that set participants up for future success, in 2021, the Food Depository began offering new programs focused on supply chain, warehousing, and logistics – sectors that continue to have a high demand for semi-skilled and skilled workers. In addition to a six-week warehouse bridge program that prepares participants with low literacy and low skills for entry level jobs, there are two other trainings (Certified Logistics Associate/Technician) that prepare participants for entry- to mid-level jobs in the supply chain and logistics industries. These two trainings are conducted in partnership with Moraine Valley Community College which provides the classroom training and proctors the industry-recognized CLA/ CLT certifications.

The Food Depository is a member of Feeding America, a national network of food banks, and serves Chicago and all of Cook County. Working through its local network, the Food Depository serves food and hope to anyone in need through a robust network of more than 700 organizations, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and similar programs. Malik Kemokai, director of workforce development strategy and operations at the Food Depository, says that the shift in training programs made sense given the organization’s mission and core industry.

“As a food bank, we are a part of the supply chain industry. It made sense for us to create a program that teaches things like warehousing, transportation, and logistics.

As a food bank, we are a part of the supply chain industry,” he said. “So it really made sense for us to create a program that teaches our participants things like warehousing, transportation, and logistics.” One of the program’s participants is Briana Brewer, who completed the 10-week warehouse and logistics training program. She says that when the pandemic hit, she was left feeling “stagnant.” She looked into the Food Depository’s job training programs on the recommendation of her mom, who thought it would be a chance for her to get out of her comfort zone.

The risk you’re scared to take could potentially change your life,” said Brewer. “At one point I chose progress over perfection. I don’t care about getting it perfectly right 100% of the time. If I progress even by an inch, I’m internally happy. Because it means I learned, I adapted, and I’m ultimately getting better.”

Brewer plans to return to school to get her associate’s degree in supply chain management, and she hopes to get a bachelor’s degree in international business and possibly go on to get her master’s degree.

The Food Depository’s job training programs have the potential to put participants on an entirely new trajectory. It not only provides them with job skills and employment opportunities, but it provides a sense of belonging and purpose. “It gives me a better [situation] to place me and my family financially,” said Jose Rivera, a job training graduate who was recently released from federal prison.

We don’t know what’s going on in everyone’s lives outside of these doors, but when they come in here, they know that they are part of a family, they have a support system,” said Teofilo Lopez, Manager of Supply Chain programs. “You create a totally new individual. It’s not the same person who walked in the door on day one for orientation. You have real leaders. You have real future CEOs. You have some real bosses out there.

Photos and quotes for this story were provided by the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

Student training for their NSC Forklift Certification.

Just the Facts

129

students graduated from job training programs in 2021.

80%

of graduates in fiscal year 2021 were women.

1,300+

students have graduated from job training programs since 1998.

Get in Touch

If you would like to know more about the Food Depository’s training programs, please call 773-843-5414 or click here.

Grant recipient since 2006.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School’s Corporate Work Study Program

Partnership with Levenfeld Pearlstein allowed Cristo Rey students to continue to learn evolving job-readiness skills and access a professional work experience, even during the pandemic.

Cristo Rey graduation ceremony in Spring 2021.

Cristo Rey’s Work Study Program (CWSP) provided me with a world of possibilities. It provided me with the opportunity to work in corporate America and realize I could belong to this new world,” said Letty, an alumnus of Cristo Rey who is currently a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist for a beverage producer and beer import company that is also a current supporter of Cristo Rey CWSP program. She went on to say, “As a First Gen, I understood the responsibility of paving the way for all the other girls who look like me, providing them with hope and opportunity to say I can choose my destiny.

This is what Cristo Rey provides its students – the opportunity to see themselves in a world filled with hope and opportunity.

Both my parents were labor workers, and I remember seeing them get home physically exhausted day after day,” said Wendy, another Cristo Rey alumnus, who is Senior Carrier Representative for a Fortune 500 logistics company. “CWSP allowed me access to a different world.

Like many schools around the country, Cristo Rey began the 2020-2021 school year with all-remote schooling, which continued through the first semester. By early spring 2021, with many of its faculty and staff vaccinated, approximately 40% of students’ parents elected to have them participate in hybrid learning for the remainder of the school year. Now, with the 2021- 2022 school year in full swing and 100% of its faculty, staff, and students vaccinated, Cristo Rey has fully reopened its building for in-person schooling.

But Cristo Rey didn’t just throw open the doors and expect students and staff to immediately “return to normal.” Instead, knowing that students, faculty, and staff would be carrying the trauma of the pandemic with them, the Class of 2025 participated in a brand-new, three-week Summer Bridge program, which included academic courses, executive functioning programming, and social-emotional evaluation. Early interventions used during the Summer Bridge Program have been and will be sustained throughout the school year via faculty training on trauma-informed teaching and an expanded Student Success Team, which focuses on preventative measures and interventions to support both academic success and social-emotional well being.

A mainstay of Cristo Rey’s innovative approach to schooling has been its Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP), which Levenfeld Pearlstein has supported and participated in for several years. In the past, students worked in our offices, earning funds for their tuition through a professional work experience that also equipped them with job-readiness skills. With several CWSP participants still operating in a remote or hybrid work environment, including Levenfeld Pearlstein, Cristo Rey launched the “CWSP Reimagined” project to adapt CWSP training and operations to the evolving workforce landscape.

Students gather in front of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

“Both my parents were labor workers, and I remember seeing them get home physically exhausted day after day. CWSP allowed me access to a different world.

CWSP Reimagined consists of a first-year business institute for freshmen; ongoing technical professional development for upperclassmen; digital safety training; the integration of academic and career-readiness curricula; and expanded employment options for job partners, including in-person, virtual, hybrid, and off-site work opportunities.

To accomplish the goals of CWSP Reimagined, Cristo Rey renovated its former media center into the CWSP Innovation Center, which accommodates up to 100 students who are not physically working on-site at a CWSP workplace. In the CWSP Innovation Center, students can take professional development courses and work remotely for their CWSP jobs.

Cristo Rey’s CWSP is as relevant and necessary as ever. The program strives to provide students with professional work experiences that enable them to take ownership for their education and career to become agents of change. Cristo Rey’s CWSP prepares graduates to become employees and leaders of organizations that would benefit from their life experience and perspective. The 561 teens who make up Cristo Rey’s student body come from 33 zip codes across the Southwest Side of Chicago. Staying true to its mission for the past 25 years, Cristo Rey continues to serve low-income students from Spanish-speaking families, with 68% of students from households that speak only Spanish. What’s more, 96% of students will be the first generation in their family to graduate with a four-year degree.

Over the years, Levenfeld Pearlstein has employed several Cristo Rey interns; this year, however, due to the pandemic, our contribution was allocated to funding and supporting CWSP Reimagined. The cost of education per student at Cristo Rey is approximately $15,000, with families asked to contribute $2,950 toward the cost of education. Because of the pandemic, however, over half of Cristo Rey’s families reported a job loss or other loss of income. As a result, Cristo Rey distributed approximately $1 million in scholarships and financial aid to the 90% of students who required additional financial assistance, meeting its commitment that no student leaves the school due to an inability to pay. Cristo Rey reports that many of its families are still reeling from the pandemic, and while the requested family contribution remains at $2,950 (where it has remained for the past ten years), the average family contribution is $1,156 per student with the remainder funded through financial assistance.

Cristo Rey students are facing the challenges of the pandemic with resilience and grace.

To me, the importance of succeeding in school is to set examples for our future generation of kids,” said Juan, a senior at Cristo Rey and CWSP participant. “Succeeding in school helps our community by improving our ways of thinking, bringing innovative ideas, and providing the ability to give your experience to someone who is struggling with school.

Photos and quotes for this story were provided by Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.

Just the Facts

89%

of the Class of 2020 enrolled in a
two- or four-year institution.

86%

of the Class of 2021 admission to four-year institution.

96%

of students will be
first generation graduates.

Get in Touch

If you are interested in hiring Cristo Rey students to work for your organization, you can learn more at cristorey.net/cwsp or contact Maureen McInerney, Director of Business Development & Strategy, at mmcinerney@cristorey.net or 773.890.6820. 

Grant partner since 2018.

No Place For Hate: The Opportunity Scholarships Program

LP’s grant to the Opportunity Scholarships Program funds virtual and in-person field trips to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center for student groups from economically disadvantaged areas.

Trinity High School’s Girls Empowered Leadership Workshop included a field trip to IHMEC to help prospective students learn about becoming upstanders in their communities.

This 2020-21 school year has been a challenging one, to say the least,” wrote a 6th grade teacher at Rickover Junior High School in Sauk Village, Illinois. “It has been difficult to keep my students engaged and interested in learning…Having the opportunity to participate in the virtual field trip at that Holocaust Museum was a privilege to be sure.

It’s hard to put into words the challenges students and educators have faced over the past two years. Their worlds were suddenly flipped upside down in March 2020 and since then, the educational environment has shifted between virtual, in-person, and hybrid. There have been quarantines and school closures. But through it all, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (IHMEC) has continued its mission to educate, engage, and empower through kindness and empathy. The Museum strives to help visitors understand our common humanity and the importance of standing up and speaking out against injustice of any kind.

Chicago-area educators have long relied on field trips to the Museum to provide critical social-emotional learning for their students. Exhibits like the IHMEC’s Make a Difference! The Harvey L. Miller Family Youth Exhibition teach kids about the power of empathy, what it means to be an Upstander, and how to stand up to bullying and injustice. In this exhibition, elementary and middle-grade students explore questions of identity, learning about the different facets of our personalities, heritage, and experiences that make each of us who we are. They also engage in a variety of activities that encourage them to celebrate diversity in the world around them.

Students engage with the IHMEC’s interactive exhibits.

This year marks the fourth year of LP’s grant earmarked to support the Opportunity Scholarships Program, which allows students from low-income schools to access IHMEC’s exhibits and programs free of charge, with subsidized bus transportation costs and no admission fees.

IHMEC presents hundreds of engaging and diverse programs for students, teachers, and the community each year. Like the entire education system, however, IHMEC’s channels for delivering these programs has evolved over the past two years. After shifting entirely to remote offerings in early 2020, IHMEC currently offers a mixture of virtual, hybrid, and in-person programming. Not only did virtual programming enable IHMECto continue its offerings, but it also extended its reach beyond the geographic area of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

“The thing that stood out to me the most was the sense of pride (the students) took when learning that there were those that survived. These stories brought a spirit of hope into the classroom.”

Through its Student and Educator Programs, IHMEC supports more than 900 schools across Illinois and the Midwest, including more than 200 Chicago Public Schools. Key audiences are students and teachers in grades 3-12.

A teacher from Rickover Junior High School in Sauk Village, IL – a school in the South Chicago area where 70% of the student body is low-income, shared: “The thing that stood out to me the most was the sense of pride (the students) took when learning that there were those that survived. These stories brought a spirit of hope into the classroom. Living in an economically deprived community can present many hardships for my students. ‘If they can make it, I know I can’, a statement that a student made following the presentation. This moment of inspiration was the best part of the entire experience.

From July 2020 to June 2021, over 29,000 students and educators visited IHMEC either in person or virtually. Of those students and educators, nearly 33% (10,294 students and educators) were able to do so because of Opportunity Scholarship grants, with 120 Opportunity Scholarship grants awarded to 76 schools. Fortytwo percent of schools receiving Opportunity Scholarship grants were Chicago Public Schools. In the 2021-2022 school year, IHMEC’s goal is to serve at least 30,000 students and educators through both in-person and virtual field trips, with approximately 25- 30% (7,500 – 10,000 students) participating with the support of Opportunity Scholarships.

IHMEC currently offers 11 virtual field trips as well as seven on-site student tours. In addition to The Make a Difference! Harvey L. Miller Family Youth Exhibition, which uses interactive exhibits to engage children ages 8-12 in exploring character development and how to become an Upstander, IHMEC also offers the following exhibits: Karkomi Holocaust Exhibition; Shanghai: Safe Haven During the Holocaust; and Rise Up: Stonewall and the LGBTQ Rights Movement. These tours support teachers in meeting state educational mandates for Holocaust history and civics education.

IHMEC’s work doesn’t stop with educating students; IHMEC is also working to engage other audiences in dialogue on issues related to racism, bias, and civic responsibility. In the 2020-2021 school year, IHMEC provided professional development training to 784 teachers – 22% of which were out-of-state educators who participated virtually – to deepen the teachers’ own education on racism so they could tailor anti-racist, culturally sustaining instruction into their classroom practice. The Museum also provided 21 training sessions to 551 law enforcement recruits and officers to give them tools for balancing civil rights with societal protection, understanding abuses of authority, and responding to hate crimes and bias.

Ultimately, IHMEC provides a learning experience that the participants can carry with them and build upon in order to create a more kind, just, and equitable community.

I believe this has helped in passing along important pieces of information that oftentimes students don’t really think about until it affects them later in their life,” said one teacher.

The experience was humbling,” one law enforcement officer said. “It reinforced my reason for wanting to become an officer. It touched my heart and it made the responsibility I’ve embarked [upon] more important to protect and treat all with respect and dignity. To never stay silenced in the face of injustice.

Photos and quotes for this story were provided by the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.

Just the Facts

Over 29,000

students and educators visited and toured the Museum, virtually and in person, from July 2020 to June 2021.

120

Opportunity Scholarship grants were awarded to 76 schools between July 2020 and June 2021.

42%

of schools receiving Opportunity Scholarships were Chicago Public Schools.

Get in Touch

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is located in Skokie at 9603 Woods Dr.

It is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and welcomes its last visitors at 4 p.m., one hour before closing.

Free parking is available.

Many LP team members provide pro bono legal services or are active volunteers with or serve on the boards of civic and charitable organizations.

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Giving

LP’s team members support various causes through pro bono work, volunteering their time, and serving in leadership positions with charitable and civic organizations.

Levenfeld Pearlstein’s Pro Bono Program

LP helped HOPE Chicago launch its revolutionary scholarship program and continued its work with National Immigrant Justice Center to provide pro bono representation to clients in asylum cases.

Hope Chicago’s Chief Program Officer Michele Howard (middle), alongside Chicago Urban League President & CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson (right), on a panel at Chicago State University.The event celebrated the inaugural cohort of collegiate Hope Chicago scholars.
Photo provided by HOPE Chicago.

LP’s commitment to pro bono legal representation is centered on a desire to use our legal skills and experience in the legal system to help others. Over the past year, several members have provided pro bono legal services to HOPE Chicago, a first-of-its-kind scholarship model serving Chicago students and their parents. Led by former Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson, HOPE Chicago is committed to raise, invest, and deploy $1 billion in college scholarships and support funding over the next decade, effectively creating pathways to economic success for multiple generations of Chicagoans.

This partnership continues LP’s commitment to making an impact in our community, not only with our financial resources, but with our time, talents, and by leveraging our networks,” said LP Partner Michael St. Peter. Additionally, since 2019, LP attorneys and paralegals have been working with National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) – a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers – to provide pro bono legal representation to immigrants in various stages of the asylum process.

Asylum is a legal process whereby an immigrant fleeing persecution in their home country can obtain a visa in the United States. Unlike refugees who proceed through the U.S. immigration system before entry into the country, asylum seekers move through the immigration court system after they’ve arrived in the U.S. Although seeking asylum is a legal process, unlike the criminal justice system, asylum seekers are not afforded legal counsel. Because the legal process of asylum is complicated and time-consuming, however, legal representation can make a huge difference in whether an asylum seeker wins their case.

“This partnership continues LP’s commitment to making an impact in our community, not only with our financial resources, but with our time, talents and by leveraging our networks.”

NIJC provides free legal representation to asylum seekers, and they have a 90% success rate in obtaining asylum for those fleeing persecution in their home countries. Because asylum cases require a significant amount of time and resources, NIJC often provides referrals of non-detailed asylum matters to attorneys at firms like LP, who have the resources to support the cases on a pro bono basis.

Partnering with a large client in the real estate industry, LP has staffed six asylum cases, with 18 LP team members working on the cases. In the past year, clients have received their work permits, which is a critical step in gaining independence and a healthy transition to life in the U.S.

Most recently, in October 2021, LP team members participated in a Day of Service with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. LP volunteers packed 738 boxes of food, including 9,096 pounds of bread. The Food Depository will be able to provide 7,580 meals as a result of these efforts.

“LP participated in a Day of Service with The Greater Chicago Food Depository. LP volunteers packed 738 boxes of food, including 9,096 pounds of bread. The Food Depository will be able to provide 7,580 meals as a result of these efforts.”

Civic And Charitable Board Support

There are many organizations in the Chicagoland area that are doing an immense amount of good. In addition to our grant partners, LP’s team members personally support several charities, non-profits and civic organizations. These are the people who have gone above and beyond by holding leadership positions in or giving a substantial amount of their time to those organizations.

Greater Chicago Food Depository
THOMAS JAROS
Chair Real Estate Awards Dinner 2021
MICHAEL ST. PETER
Associate Board Member

Green City Market
MITCHELL J. WEINSTEIN
Board Member, Executive Committee Member, Chair of Governance Committee

Harold Eisenberg Foundation
MARC JOSEPH
Executive Board Member
ELIZABETH O’BRIEN
Board of Directors

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
ROBERT ROMANOFF
Board of Directors

Jewish Council for Youth Services
BENJAMIN ALTSHUL
Volunteer

Jewish United Fund
MARC S. JOSEPH
Facilities Board Member
ROBERT  ROMANOFF
Professional Advisory Committee

Kids Hope USA
SUZANNE SHIER

Board Member and Board Officer

Knitting and Giving and Knitted Knockers
KAREYA FLEEK

Volunteer

Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois
SHERI E. WARSH
Immediate Past Board Member

Misericordia Heart of Mercy
EILEEN M. SETHNA
Women’s Board Member, Advisory Board Member

National Center for Employee Ownership
DAVID B. SOLOMON
Board Member

New Trier School Board Caucus
LAURA B. FRIEDEL
Member, Vice Chair for 2022 Election Cycle

Next Generation – United States Holocaust Museum
JASON B. HIRSH
Board Member

Oak Park Temple B’Nai Abraham Zion
LAUREN J. WOLVEN

Development Committee

Reflectors Disability Ministry
BECKY JO MORGAN

Active Volunteer

Rochelle Zell Jewish High School
ROBERT A. ROMANOFF
Board of Directors

Sarah’s Circle
ERIN M. MAYER
Associate Board Member

Special Olympics of Illinois

EILEEN M. SETHNA
Board Member and Gala Committee Chair

Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership

HAROLD D. ISRAEL

Chair of Governance Committee, Executive Committee and Board of Trustee Member

St. Raphael Catholic School
HEIDI A. KIGHT
Room Mom, Spirit Wear Co-Chair and 2022 Gala Fundraiser Co-Chair
Temple Beth-El
HAROLD D. ISRAEL
Board Member

Trillium Foundation
JAMES D. BRUSSLAN
Board Member

University of Illinois Hillel
HAROLD D. ISRAEL

Board of Governors, Chair of Goverance Committee

United States Tennis Association
MARY ELLEN HANRAHAN

Volunteer

Vernon Area Public Library
MARC I. FENTON

President of Board of Trustees

Village of Deerfield – Planning Commission
BLAKE E. SCHULMAN
Commissioner

Village of La Grange Plan Commission
JEFFERY HOFFENBERG
Commissioner

A Closer Look at Chicago Scholars

Suzanne Shier, of counsel in LP’s Trusts & Estates Group, has served on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee for Chicago Scholars Foundation, including as Board President from 2013 to 2015 and as Board Secretary since March 2020. Serving more than 3,000 Scholars and Alumni each year, Chicago Scholars is the largest college access and success program in Chicago.

Suzanne Shier, Of Counsel in LP’s Trust & Estates Group

Q: Why do you support Chicago Scholars?
A: Chicago Scholars literally changes lives and Chicago Scholars alumni are now a force in giving back to their families and communities.

Q: When did you first begin working with Chicago Scholars?
A: I started working with Chicago Scholars when Arne Duncan was Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools in the early-2000s. My first live event was the May College Choice Day when Arne moderated a group of very excited high school seniors who announced the schools they would attend in the fall. It was exhilarating!

Q: What advice would you have for someone who wants to support Chicago Scholars?
A: First, know that you will get more than you give; the Scholars are inspiring. Second, plan to attend or volunteer at the 2022 on-site interview event in October to get a firsthand view of students interviewing for college who get admitted and are offered scholarships on-site. Third, if you have less time and more money, visit chicagoscholars.org and give. Fourth, if you really want to dig in, become a mentor.

Q: What are Chicago Scholars’ primary goals or mission?
A: Chicago Scholars’ vision is to create a vibrant Chicago, powered by diverse leaders from every neighborhood. Chicago Scholars uniquely selects, trains, and mentors academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to complete college and become the next generation of leaders who will transform their neighborhoods and the City of Chicago. That’s powerful.

Q: What is one thing someone might not know about Chicago Scholars or what it does?
A: Over 150 colleges and universities come to Chicago each year in October to interview Scholars for college admission (virtually in 2020 and 2021). Over 3,000 interviews were conducted on-site in October 2021 and more than $30 million in scholarships were offered to Scholars. In its 25-year history, over 5,000 Scholars have been impacted. Eighty-three percent of Scholars graduate college within six years, compared to 48 percent of their peers.

Q: What direct impact have you seen Chicago Scholars have on the community?
A: Scholars thrive and they give back. One Scholar Alum launched the nonprofit Sustainable Ocean Alliance and is now a driving force in the efforts to cultivate sustainable oceans. Another Scholar Alum is the Senior Vice President of Population Health at Oak Street Health after graduating from Harvard University.

Q: What are Chicago Scholars’ goals for 2022?
A: Chicago Scholars has launched its third phase of growth, called Chicago Scholars 3.0. The organization is working to increase the number of Scholars served, and focus energy on several key initiatives, including its Young Men of Color pilot program, its Scholar mobile application launch, and internships for all (which includes the internal internship offering called Emerge).

Q: Is there anything else noteworthy or important you’d like to mention?
A: Access to education is access to opportunity, and access to opportunity changes lives, families, and communities. Chicago Scholars rise, and as they rise, so do others in their spheres of influence.


For more information, visit chicagoscholars.org.

Chicago Scholars’ high school seniors are getting accepted into the most selective colleges across the country. These young leaders follow a core set of values that the organization works to instill in them and in all it does.
Photo provided by Chicago Scholars.

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