On Thursday, August 17, 2023, Lincoln Financial Group’s Jana Barrett, National Director, Education Initiatives, Lincoln Financial Foundation and Renica Hamilton, Assistant Vice President, Strategic Business Management as well as a member of the Board of Directors for Communities In Schools of Greater Greensboro (CISGG), sat down with Paula Hauf and Jimmi Williams to review Lincoln’s impeccable support of the mission and programs of CISGG beginning in 1988-89. We plan to do a series of articles this fiscal year about our supporters. We decided to begin with Lincoln because of the generous support it provides to approximately 80 organizations nationwide through its education initiatives.
Jana (JB): We are so proud of our relationship with Communities In Schools of Greater Greensboro (CISGG). Lincoln supports CISGG because of its investment in Guilford County’s children. What sets their program apart is their authentic relationships with the families they serve. This level of trust is earned over years of commitment and intentionality. You can have excellent academic programs but to really move the needle you need strong partnerships between the CISGG staff, Guilford County School (GCS) staff, students and their families. When you build a community based on trust, it ultimately creates an environment for learning, growth and academic success.
Renica (RH): I was introduced and had the opportunity to learn about CISGG at a past employer, through leading the company’s volunteer network and managing its United Way campaigns. When I joined Lincoln, I was very pleased to learn that Lincoln’s philanthropic arm, the Lincoln Financial Foundation also supported this wonderful organization. Personally, l have always loved CISGG’s mission because I would have benefited from it if it had been available to me when I was younger. I was privileged to have a community of people who embraced me and wanted me to be successful. They invested in me, and it is important for me to support the next generation and invest in students through CISGG.
JB: The longevity of CISGG and the trust established with the GCS district, as well as working with the families really positions the organization to have a strong impact in the community. You can’t manufacture trust and authenticity and I think that is an important factor in student success. In addition, CISGG has positive program outcomes. Students participating in their academic programs are achieving great results in the classroom and beyond.
RH: (Support of CISGG) demonstrates Lincoln’s commitment to the community. People like to see organizations that support our children. That’s very important, especially here in Guilford County. This is a very good organization to be affiliated with for that purpose.
JB: I would like to add one other point. It’s important to Lincoln that our partnership is far-reaching. In addition to financial giving, we are focused on community involvement and volunteerism – with our employees engaging with CISGG and making a difference through volunteering, board service and individual contributions. Through the years we have been very involved with the boys at Wiley, Jackson and Smith through the African American Male Mentoring Initiative (AAMI). And Lincoln’s employee-led African American Business Resource Group (AABRG), has hosted math carnivals, updated the library, refurbished the teacher lounge, landscaped and more. And in her role serving on the Board of Directors, Renica’s contributions to CISGG are invaluable. She has become an advocate for you within Lincoln and across our employee groups and business areas.
JB: The AAMI has been a life-changing experience for so many young men in Guilford County. We all need people in our lives to support and advocate for us. Having an extra voice in a student’s life augments the great work that the parents are doing. It is important for everyone to have a caring adult in their life to invest in them, help them build confidence and challenge them to reach their goals. AAMI has been very successful in shepherding these young men through school.
I believe AAMI has created an environment where caring adults invest in young people and are their biggest cheerleaders.
RH: Keep showing up and engaging with us to share more about your work, highlight opportunities for involvement and showcase CISGG’s impact. It is so important for members of Team Lincoln to see your passion and energy, how the Foundation is making a difference and ways they can support your amazing organization and the lives of local students.