CIS of Chicago believes that programs don’t change people; relationships do. That’s why our team makes a concerted effort to pair students with working professionals who can expose them to different working environments, speak to them about their goals, and encourage them to think about life after graduation. These experiences also impact the mentors profoundly.


Our flagship volunteer program, InspireU provides mentorship for students in grades six through eight. CIS of Chicago launched the program in 2014, in partnership with Capital One. The program pairs students from some of our partner schools with one or more adult mentors from Capital One.

Students visit the Capital One offices in downtown Chicago regularly to meet with their mentors, explore their personal strengths and career interests, and develop plans to stay on the path to graduation. InspireU mentors are vetted according to full Chicago Public Schools protocol. Through the program, students also learn about professional work settings, as well as a range of college and career topics.

During 2018-19, 26 students and 38 mentors participated in InspireU. Mentors logged 370.5 hours, and students logged 315 hours.

Learn more about the program on our YouTube channel.


CIS of Chicago also engages students in mentorship through Inspiring Futures, one-time opportunities for students to meet company employees, explore career paths, tour office space, and receive guidance from these professionals. We like to call Inspiring Futures a “flip-the-classroom” experience.

For students, this is a chance to expand their horizons and venture outside of their neighborhoods. For company employees, Inspiring Futures allows them to connect with students and share their expertise with the next generation.

Students and mentors work together to map about their personal goals and identify steps to achieve those goals. Students might be seeking to improve their attendance or grades. Employees might be working on achieving a better work-life balance. In fall 2019, CIS of Chicago hosted Inspiring Futures sessions at GTCR, AT&T, and Groupon.

Is your organization interested in engaging millennial employees through Inspiring Futures? Check out the benefits of participating from our CEO, Jane Mentzinger.