When our CEO, Charlie Kim, announced that we would be Adopting A Public School, he asked individuals in our company who wanted to volunteer to be intimately involved with the initiative. At Next Jump, this means, following our “FLO” model, where himself, and our Chief of Staff, Meghan Messenger, would be Coaching, and a Captain, Right Hand and Left Hand would be needed.
Contrary to what you may think, I didn’t send a note to Charlie for at least a week. Although excited about the idea of us Adopting A School, and Next Jump’s capacity to help others-I was worried about how I would participate. The thoughts going through my head-would I have enough time to take this on, in addition to my core responsibilities at Next Jump? Would this take time away from my own family-which I already felt was limited as a working mom of two?
I shared these concerns with Charlie and Meghan, and actually found just getting them off my chest was all I needed to do. This was an amazing opportunity to practice where I was weak; selflessly helping others, being a pure giver and expecting nothing in return. If I could use Adopt A School as a deliberate practice ground, I knew deep inside it would help me become the mother, leader, and employee I truly wanted to be.
Our team was formed shortly thereafter-Albert Balcells (SVP of Engineering), myself (VP of Merchant Services) were chosen as Captains, and we chose our Right Hand, Peter Chicachiaro (Director of Wellness), and Iulian Ionescu (Finance) as our Left Hand. Captains and Hands were also selected in our satellite offices in Boston and London.
Now where to start… we started to map out the organizational structure of the NYC District of Education (DOE). Their website is quite helpful. We also did research on Mayor DeBlasio’s plan with regards to Education-the articles around Renewal Schools, Community Schools, and Chancellor Farina’s support were numerous.
My mother is an Assistant Principal in the South Bronx, so I was able to tap into her knowledge and get advice. You would be surprised that within your network, someone will know someone in the Board of Education. You can talk to teachers, principals, volunteers, and nonprofits. We reached out with a simple yet powerful message of what we were trying to do, and the school recommendations began pouring in.
After a quick screen of the principals over the phone, meetings were set up-at both our offices and the schools. We encouraged the principals to bring Assistant Principals, Guidance Counselors, Gym Coaches, and Librarians to the meeting.
Expect most schools to be skeptical of your help, to think you want something out of it (PR), or to simply be too busy to get involved. We had some schools turn us down, due to the fact that they were getting help elsewhere, or flat out ignore our requests to meet due to being too busy.
As we honed in on 6 schools to meet, we began our process…