September 21, 2018  /   Chicago

Clothing for a Cause

T’keyah, a 7th grade student at Joseph Kellman Corporate Community School, started Spark with an interest in fashion, helping others, and leading projects. While T’keyah had tons of ideas, she never had the opportunity to put her ideas on paper and explore different careers that could align to her interests and future.

T’keyah was paired with Allison, a first-year mentor at LGIMA, an investment-advising firm that focuses on fixed income and liability driven investment strategies. Allison believed in creating an open dialogue with T’keyah so they could talk about tangible career goals. Together with T’keyah’s creativity and Allison’s openness they created a line of t-shirts for middle schoolers that featured anti-bullying slogans that tapped into her various interests.  T’keyah’s project also allowed her to learn how to manage her own business and how to negotiate with potential buyers.

T’keyah’s project was so inspiring that her classmate Terrence, decided to create an advertising website to sell her designs.. At the end of mentorships, T’keyah and Terrence presented together at Share Your Spark, Spark’s annual citywide celebration of learning. T’keyah and her mentor modeled the original t-shirt designs and practiced sales pitches, while Terrence showed potential buyers how they could purchase the shirts online.

Over the course of her Spark mentorship, T’keyah developed and used skills including time management, networking, teamwork, and project management to complete her career-inspired project. Allison modeled these skills throughout the mentorship through her overall commitment to Spark and by introducing T’keyah to an unknown world that could bring her ideas to life. Through Spark, T’keyah has learned the value of hard work and got to experience first-hand the rewards that come with hard work.  Her experience at LGIMA allowed her to be in a professional setting and to see a path to a future career from the perspective of people from all different backgrounds. This understanding will keep T’keyah more focused and on the right path to success in middle school and beyond.

T’keyah concluded her mentorship by sharing a reflection of her experience with her mentor and the LGIMA team, “Allison was the best. She listened to me and I loved that we could work and still have fun. She is also goofy like me and likes to laugh. I’m going to miss Spark so much and if there is a way for me to come back I will!”

Read Next