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The Power of Mentorships

May 30, 2017

In January, American Express joined New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and nineteen other companies in launching the “Good for Me. Good for My City.” campaign, which champions mentorship programs for high school students and employee volunteers.

As part of the campaign, American Express has pledged to engage 2,000 of our NYC-based employees in volunteerism, and 250 as mentors to high school students.

I recently sat down with John Hall, a director in our Global Commercial Payments business and one of the many American Express employees helping us meet this pledge, to hear how his volunteer experience has made a difference.

What was your mentorship project?
Through the American Express Foundation, I discovered Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City (BBBS), which offers employees biweekly mentoring opportunities in our headquarters building.

The organization works to give all children in NYC who face adversity an opportunity to experience a strong, enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationship with adults that will help change their lives for the better.

I mentored my little brother from his freshman year through to his high school graduation, and was charged with offering him support and guidance as he navigated a range of challenges. These included building confidence, acing school work and completing college applications.

What attracted you to this cause?
First, the organization’s focus. I worked a lot with teenagers throughout my college years and found true value in the experience. I wanted a volunteer opportunity that would allow me to continue doing that.

Second, the level of impact. By serving as a mentor and confidant, BBBS offered me the chance to make a true difference in the life of a fellow New Yorker.

Lastly, the location. Not only was the experience convenient for me because it took place at our offices, but coming here gave my little brother access to a world beyond his own.

What did you learn from this experience?
There are so many young people who have the talent to achieve their dreams, but who may have the deck stacked against them. It only takes a little bit of individual effort to be a mentor and help them figure it all out. But, together our actions have a profound impact on their overall chances of success.

Why is this cause important to the community?
Every child – regardless of his or her background – deserves a chance to succeed. BBBS helps children rise to their full potential and encourages them to become future leaders in their own communities. In that way, mentorship is a gift that keeps on giving – making our city and its citizens even stronger.

What was the result of your service?
I am thrilled to say that today my little brother is enrolled in a four-year university, out-of-state, and plans to pursue a degree in philosophy. I like to think our relationship helped make the journey to college a little easier. Most importantly, I hope it made a difference in his life, just as it did in mine.

You too can help your own community and a fellow New Yorker through the power of mentorship. To learn more about NYC Service and connect to volunteer opportunities across the city, please visit

John Hall and the student he mentored
John Hall mentored a New York City teenager throughout high school, helping him on his way to a four-year university. Photo: Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City

If you have a question or comment, please follow me on Twitter at @timmcclimon and start a conversation there. Thanks for reading and sharing this blog posting with friends and colleagues.  


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