Providing students of modest economic means with a college preparatory education aimed at helping young men and women develop the habits of mind and spirit that will enable them to be successful in college, in their careers, and in life.
Providing meaningful opportunities for professionals to interact with and mentor students while making a difference in their lives. Over 100 Cleveland-area businesses, firms, and non-profits have partnered with Saint Martin.
Saint Martin invites students into our school community who are committed to academic, spiritual, social, emotional, and physical growth. During the admissions process, Saint Martin reviews academic, disciplinary, and attendance records, as well as teacher recommendations.
While we are serious about preparing students for college and career success, we also believe that school should be fun! Caring for the whole student, we believe that involvement in extracurriculars is essential to continuing to form talented, well-rounded, and interesting individuals.
It is 2003, a new high school is opening in Cleveland, and you receive a cold call from its Vice President of Corporate Work Study, Tom Bennet, inviting you to learn about hiring teenagers to work in your office. What do you do? Although many would brush this off and say their growing business does not have time or interest, for Brian Kurtz, Managing Director of Baird, he knew Saint Martin de Porres High School was onto something special.
During the initial meeting, Kurtz fell in love with Saint Martin’s mission and the impact his company could have on preparing Cleveland’s next generation of workforce leaders. In addition to Baird’s local impact, Kurtz learned that his company was already involved with the Cristo Rey movement in Chicago, through Baird’s then CEO Paul Purcell. Kurtz called Purcell to get his input on Cleveland’s participation in the program, and Purcell shared that outside of his family, the Corporate Work Study Program was his favorite thing he did;he encouraged Kurtz to do whatever it takes to get involved. This was the phone call that kick-started Baird’s journey to become 1 of 24 founding Corporate Work Study Partners at Saint Martin.
Now in the 19th year of partnership, Baird has partnered with 64 Saint Martin students on their work study journey. The company has had a full job team of 4 students every year from the opening of Saint Martin until the 2017-18 school year, when they switched to 2 students per year. Students mainly supported the company by filing documents in the early years, and as Baird has become more digital, student work tasks have grown to include support work for office staff.
For Kurtz, the commitment to Saint Martin students goes beyond the day to day work tasks. His company enjoys connecting with students while supporting them to achieve their dreams. Kurtz recalls a story with one of his early students, Mercedes Engle ‘11, who was accepted into a summer hospitality program at Cornell University. While Mercedes was excited about the opportunity, she shared that she would not be able to attend due to the cost of the program. A company email was sent around sharing information regarding Mercedes’s opportunity, and, within two hours, Mercedes’s coworkers rallied together to raise the money to send Mercedes to the program, showcasing the firm’s commitment to their students’ success. Barid even hosts an annual Christmas lunch in the office, inviting past students to come back and stay connected with the firm. Additionally, Kurtz enjoys staying in contact with students even after they graduate from Saint Martin and forming long lasting friendships. This includes one of his first students from the original graduating class, Julius Clark ‘08, who Kurtz still talks with almost 14 years later, and even attended his wedding.
Outside of student connection and success, Baird sees the Corporate Work Study Program as an important part of their inclusion and diversity initiatives. He shares, “Baird has always been on board with inclusion and diversity but we are committed even more now. Companies want to strengthen their DE&I initiatives and this is the gateway and feeder system to do that. We need to invest in the development of students now if we want them to come back and work for us in the future.” Further, he shares that the program is beneficial for everyone involved as it allows both employees and students to learn new perspectives from one another.
Saint Martin is thankful for Baird’s partnership since our founding in 2003 and for their national support of the work study model as they are a Partner in at least 10 schools in the Cristo Rey Network. We are looking forward to seeing even more success built together in the upcoming years.
Learn more about Baird at rwbaird.com.
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