SuitUp is a New York City-based education nonprofit that serves students around the country and the world by providing business planning competitions that pair underserved student groups with corporate partners looking to host employee volunteer events. The corporate partners serve as coaches for students as they navigate in groups to solve a business challenge in a way that exposes them to career opportunities and career readiness strategies. The beauty of this partnership is that it creates mentors for students who may not otherwise have them and effectively uses the skill sets of America’s corporate employees to inspire the future workforce. Mainly through competitions but through other volunteering initiatives as well, SuitUp has the goal of making sure that all students are exposed to the college and career paths of their choosing.
For me, at first glance, it was clear that today more than ever was a time to get involved in an organization like this. Recent racial justice initiatives on the individual level and the corporate level prove that this equity work can no longer wait. If we all want a better tomorrow, students from a young age need to be given the tools for success, not just the bare minimum. The education system has its flaws, and organizations like SuitUp seek to use the power of volunteering and philanthropy to begin to fill these gaps.
As somebody who grew up in the New York City public school system, I always knew about the education gap and disparities in education. But my understanding and vocabulary to describe my passion for educational equity didn’t come until I began university. At Brandeis, I also realized that my volunteer work in New York City public schools and even the public schools that surround Brandeis was showing me where these inequities start. I could also see why there is such a lack of economic and racial diversity at some of the best colleges in the country. If K-12 schools can’t even find the funding to provide necessary academic support to their English language learners and special education students, how will they achieve the goals written into state standards on college and career readiness?
SuitUp believes that all companies have a plethora of reasons to participate in these events, and students deserve these opportunists and more. However, sometimes the cost of each event does not cover what we need to carry out our programing as successfully as possible. Therefore, SuitUp hosts an annual gala. That brings me to my role as the Events and Fundraising intern working under SuitUp’s Executive Director. My job, as well as the job of the other intern on my team, is to plan ahead for the gala this fall. Within the first few weeks, I have created marketing collateral and communicated with the guest list, reached out to vendors to secure sponsors and gifts, and led a team of corporate executives to strategize marketing in preparation for our gala. These projects have taught me so much. Most importantly, I have learned that social progress takes detailed-oriented teamwork. SuitUp excels at this and is teaching it to its summer 2021 interns.