|13 Oct 2020|
Ladies dressed as flappers and Jell-O shots circulated StreetWise Partners' Speakeasy party earlier this week, where guests could indulge in poker and craps before ending their evening with hand-rolled cigars.
Tazia Smith, who is on the board of directors, said it's sometimes difficult to raise money for StreetWise, which helps low-income adults improve their job prospects but doesn't have down-and-out children or puppies to sell its story.
Instead, Emilee Ballaro, a former director of development for the 15-year-old nonprofit organization, said its partners— Barclays, New York Stock Exchange, Goldman Sachs, PwC, Marsh & McLennan Companies —keep it afloat with donated corporate space and talent.
StreetWise used to focus on Wall Street careers but has diversified over the years, especially as winds have shifted since the financial crisis, said Jeff Meyers, an investment banker and chairman of the junior board.
While working at Goldman Sachs one day at the crisis's peak, Ms. Smith received an email from a trainee.
"It said, 'I've been reading a lot about your company lately, I hope you're doing OK, and if you need help finding a job, let me know,' " she said.
StreetWise participants go through a 12-week program that coaches them in everything from basic computer skills to public speaking. Afterward, they can opt for resume critiques, mock interviews and networking events. "It's kind of like going to business school for free," former mentor Alex Urdea said.
Trainee Raza Miau approached StreetWise Partners as a first-generation immigrant and the first in his family to attend college. Now he is focused on building a career in health care.
"I want to pay it forward," he said. "I do want to get some experience under my belt before I volunteer and coach people, but I definitely want to come back and help other individuals like myself."
Tracey Allard, StreetWise's executive director, said she would try her hand at poker and Three-Card Monte that night. "Doing anything on behalf of StreetWise Partners is a worthy activity," she said. "Our vision is that one day every individual has the ability to fulfill his or her potential. That's really what we care about."
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