Throughout one’s career, no matter their role or industry, those who achieve great success likely have or have had a mentor who helped guide them along the way, even if there was no formalized “can you be my mentor?” conversation. When mentoring begins at the college level, the student is more likely to head down a path of increased success, both in their classes and post-graduate careers.

There are numerous benefits to having support resources like a mentor or broader academic support program – according to, young adults with a mentor are 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions. Mentorship typically leads to better academic, social and economic prospects, but many people do not realize that college mentor and support programs targeted toward minorities have the potential to influence the bigger picture and shrink the wealth gap for those communities.

On February 17, Chicago-headquartered Relativity announced that it has forged a new partnership with Rise Academy, Chicago State University’s (CSU) first-year student success program. Through this partnership, four Relativity employees will become mentors for eight Rise Scholars. These mentors have experience in engineering, cybersecurity and business, and will draw on their own experiences to help guide and advise the students on their personal college and career journeys. 

The mentors will participate in the program with the aim to close the Black and Latinx wealth gap. CSU has long held an agenda grounded in equity, prioritizing increasing Black and Latinx communities’ access to college, and it recognizes that for far too many students, a range of obstacles prevent them from enrolling in or completing college. Rise Academy offers a tuition-free scholarship for all eligible incoming freshman scholars and is a year-long program that provides intensive academic support such as: embedded tutoring, intensive advising, individualized support on students’ academic and career pathway, and intentional efforts to build community between students and faculty.

“As a talent-first organization, it is imperative that we continue to think critically about how we can attract, develop and retain talent, and provide the right resources to those in our community who are working toward their college degrees and launching their careers,” said Mike Gamson, Chief Executive Officer at Relativity.

“Relativity recognizes the importance of strong talent development and the impact of connecting that talent to key career opportunities. I’m thrilled that we are partnering with the Rise Academy program at CSU so we can help these incredible scholars prepare for tomorrow’s job market and set them up for success.” 

Recent events like COVID-19 have made it more difficult for some students and families to continue their studies. As a result, CSU felt the need to do more. Hence the launch of Rise Academy, an initiative to drive measurable and sustainable results to close the Black and Latinx education and wealth gap in Chicago and the State of Illinois. In addition to a tuition-free scholarship, it offers eligible incoming freshmen the tools they will need to succeed in their first year of college, including a strong community of classmates, professors, and advisors. 

“Chicago State University is Illinois’s only 4-year Predominantly Black Institution, as designated by the Department of Education, and 78 percent of our student population is Black or Latinx and as a university we have rallied together to support these students, many of whom are still suffering the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Zaldwaynaka Scott, President at CSU, “Our partnership with Relativity is a tangible demonstration of CSU’s unwavering commitment to our students and faculty as we work with  intention to strengthen the university’s infrastructure.”

There are various opportunities to support CSU’s community of Rise Scholars to not only achieve their secondary education goals but be successful in the workforce once they graduate.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you or your organization can get involved with Rise Academy at CSU, please reach out to the Director of Rise Academy, Esther Kraft.