PENCIL Power Breakfast: Building a Community of Change

PENCIL Power Breakfast Feb 2016

Guests gather and network at PENCIL’s Power Breakfast at Snohetta in February.

Lower Manhattan is home to a quarter million workers, nearly 10,000 companies, over 60 public schools and more than 30,000 students.  Any one of these numbers shows the strength of the downtown community, but together, they have the power to create change across New York City.

But how does the substantial business community get involved to know and understand the needs and wants of lower Manhattan’s public education system?

PENCIL connected the dots to make network development opportunities available through our Power Breakfast series, with this Power Breakfast focusing on downtown New York City.

PENCIL Partner Snohetta hosted our second Power Breakfast, sponsored by Trinity Wall Street, to discuss how the Downtown Initiative is bringing together businesses and schools to create meaningful business-public school student partnership opportunities that demonstrate the strength and impact of the downtown community.

VP Gregg Betheil (far left) convenes the panel

PENCIL Vice President of Programs Gregg Betheil (far left) convenes the panel at the PENCIL Power Breakfast.

Through the Downtown Initiative, PENCIL connects over 65 companies with more than 20 schools in lower Manhattan. Stories about the power of those partnerships—across years of development and in some cases, reengagements—helped the audience understand why PENCIL’s work is a necessary part in building a community of change in lower Manhattan.

PENCIL Vice President, Programs, Gregg Betheil, convened the panel discussion, featuring Principal Michael Stanzione of the High School for Economics and Finance; Lisa Dominick, Managing Director- Head of Enterprise Computing of The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC); and Kate Grimes, Office Manager of Snohetta.

“Partners such as these are vital so that PENCIL can help bring students into the downtown community to understand the global economy from a local level,” Betheil said.


Principal Michael Stanzione (left) chats with a fellow principal.

Principal Michael Stanzione (left) chats with a fellow principal at the PENCIL Power Breakfast.

Principal Stanzione brought perspective from the education community into how important it is for his students to gain exposure to the thriving economic center of Wall Street that is literally blocks from his school.

“The vision and goal of the High School for Economics and Finance is for every student to attend college,” he said. “Through the successful mentoring with our PENCIL Partner BNY Mellon, they’re helping prepare our students for the next chapter in life. Our students are able to see how their classroom skills apply to the business world.”

BNY Mellon and the High School for Economics and Finance have partnered together for seven years and since 2014, the BNY Mellon team has worked on college preparation with 10th grade students.  BNY Mellon received the 2015 Emerging PENCIL Partnership Award.

PENCIL Partner DTCC lends more than financial support and advice—they lend a helping hand in resume writing and interview practice with the students at Lower East Side Preparatory High School.

Lisa Dominick chats with a guest at the Power Breakfast

Lisa Dominick (left) of DTCC chats with a guest at the PENCIL Power Breakfast.

“It’s important to have the students visit the office to show them that there are so many jobs and interests within a financial institution,” Dominick said. “They begin to think outside of themselves to know what possibilities await them.”

Dominick said that her team of volunteers from DTCC supplement in-school curriculum with developing and teaching professional skills, like professional communication, business attire and more.

“Those basic, fundamental skills that you need to succeed in professional environments can carry through to college and career success,” she said.

The partnership between PENCIL Partner Snohetta and New Heights Middle School in Brooklyn has evolved and been redesigned in a way that is more beneficial to the business volunteers and to the needs of the students. Grimes also supported more student visits to Snohetta’s new offices in the Financial District.

Kate Grimes

Kate Grimes of Snohetta discusses Snohetta’s PENCIL School Partnership at the PENCIL Power Breakfast.

“Through our School Partnership, we found that the students’ behavior changed dramatically when they came into an office environment,” she said. “They immediately were more excited to see the work and were engaged and responsive. We now host all of our sessions in the office and our colleagues who aren’t as involved with the Partnership are able to come see what it’s all about more easily.”

The coffee and conversation will continue at our next Power Breakfast on March 14 at longtime PENCIL Partner Deloitte as we focus our attention to how Deloitte has leveraged the different areas of PENCIL’s programming to impact hundreds of students annually and deepen their employment engagement efforts through the volunteerism and how your company can do the same.