If education is the core of LINK, the student/sponsor relationship is the heart of LINK. We are the only scholarship organization in the city of Chicago that provides individual, one-to-one mentoring for each of its students. This unique aspect of the LINK program provides the bridge that connects students’ dreams for the future to the reality of achieving that future. The exposure, understanding, and guidance that the student/sponsor relationship engenders are vital to the success of each LINK student, which ultimately, is the definitive transformation.
LINK Unlimited sponsors are civic-minded individuals from Chicago’s business and professional community who want to make a real difference in the lives of youth. Sponsors make a four-year commitment to their student. Sponsors contribute to the cost of a private school education and give generously of their time to help each student reach his/her full potential. Sponsors change lives and in doing so, change the world.
Potential new sponsors are referred to LINK by current and past LINK sponsors, volunteers and staff members. In addition, we also hold sponsor recruitment events at sponsors homes and places of business. New Sponsors and incoming freshman fill out a match form. Each is to list their hobbies, leadership positions, and organizations they are affiliated with. The students are asked about their ambitions and career goals, while sponsors are asked about their occupation. These forms are used to match students and sponsors with like interests. LINK staff also takes the time to get to know both incoming students and sponsors to match students and sponsors according to not only interests but needs.
Prior to meeting one another, LINK holds separate training sessions for mentors and students and their parents. Cultural and sports events are offered to provide help in developing the relationship between sponsor and student. LINK staff also touch base with both students and sponsors throughout the year to ensure the relationship is moving forward and to address any concerns if necessary. In order to ensure that the student/sponsor relationship will be as beneficial as possible sponsor and student meet in person, by phone or through e-mail a minimum of twice each month. LINK also plans group events, attended by the entire LINK Unlimited family. LINK sponsors are also very active in all of our programming. Many sponsors take their students or groups of students on college trips; they participate in career fairs and help with our college workshops.