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Through Kellogg’s partnership with Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC), Kellogg students are gaining leadership skills and improving opportunities for Chicago public school students.

Through Kellogg’s partnership with Communities in Schools of Chicago (CISC), Kellogg students are gaining leadership skills and improving opportunities for Chicago public school students.

Working with ‘leaders of tomorrow’

Jane Mentzinger, executive director of Communities In Schools of Chicago, reflects on the mutual benefits of partnering with the Kellogg School

1/13/2011 - Synchronizing classroom learning with real-world experiences is integral to the Kellogg School’s educational philosophy. But those experiences wouldn’t be possible without Kellogg’s partnerships with corporations, organizations and communities.

One of those partnerships is with Communities In Schools of Chicago (CISC), a local nonprofit organization that connects community organizations to more than 60,000 students in Chicago Public Schools. For more than five years, CISC has joined forces with Kellogg in a variety of areas — from participating in the Neighborhood Business Initiative to recruiting students from the Board Fellows Program to connecting students with tutoring programs at CISC partner schools.

CISC Executive Director Jane Mentzinger talks about the ways the partnership has benefited her organization — and nurtured the development of Kellogg’s future business leaders.

CISC Executive Director Jane Mentzinger
CISC Executive Director Jane Mentzinger
Give us an example of a CISC challenge that Kellogg students helped solve.

One of the things we wanted to improve was CISC’s approach to board development. That is, how do we understand the needs of our board, and how do we better equip them to fulfill their roles? We were interested in creating a board survey, but we just didn’t have the time to create one.

How did students address this challenge?

A Kellogg student from the Board Fellows Program created and implemented a board development survey that was thoughtful and specific. The challenge was in determining how to narrow down the survey questions, because we couldn’t ask our directors a hundred questions. Our board fellow not only figured that out, but she also interviewed individual board members to find out what they were most interested in learning from their fellow directors. When the survey was complete, our board fellow compiled all of the information and presented it to the board development and nominating committee.

What were the results of the survey?

The survey delivered more than expected. It broadened how the organization addressed some critical issued in strategic planning (we were engaged in a strategic planning process that year); in communications (what are the messages and information our directors need to communicate); and in financial oversight (what our directors want to know regarding their role in financial oversight of the organization).

In what other ways did CISC benefit?

The survey helped us think differently about how we share some of our financial information. For example, we learned that our directors wanted to have more in-depth discussions around strategic planning. As a result, we extended the time of our board meeting to have further conversation about this topic. What was initially a short board presentation turned into a two-and-a-half-hour meeting on strategic planning.

As a result of this experience, what impressions do you have of Kellogg students?

When I look at Kellogg students, I see the leaders of tomorrow. We hope these students might someday serve on our board — or on nonprofit boards across the country.