Corporate Partner Spotlight: BMO Harris Bank

bmo_harris_bank_823692BMO Harris Bank is a valued Cristo Rey Corporate Partner. BMO Harris Bank employs student teams at Cristo Rey Milwaukee Jesuit High School, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School – Twin Cities,  Cristo Rey Jesuit High School (Chicago), and Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School, for a total of more than 16 student workers across the Network. BMO Harris Bank was recently featured in the Cristo Rey Jesuit Chicago newsletter Las Obras.

In the fall of 2010, BMO Harris Bank planted the seed for a growing corporate partnership with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. The bank’s Latino Alliance Employee Resource Group reached out to Cristo Rey, contributing scholarship funds donated by employees in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. This first touchpoint led to the hiring of four students through the Corporate Work Study Program, and since then, the relationship has blossomed beyond the 12 students they currently employ. Through volunteerism, financial literacy education, paid student internships, and scholarship fundraising, BMO Harris Bank and its Latino Alliance support our students while creating a more diverse workforce, increasing awareness for diversity and inclusion, and providing opportunities for employees to engage with our community.

Over the past two years, BMO Harris Bank has become a familiar face at our November Career Day event – an opportunity for the entire Sophomore Class to explore career options, talk with caring professionals, and practice job interviewing skills. At Career Day, students have a chance to ask volunteers what they really do every day at their jobs, how they got to where they are now, what they studied in college, and what advice they have for succeeding in their positions. Last year, our students had a chance to hear from BMO Harris employees during panel discussions on the topics of finance and entrepreneurship, before diving in for one-on-one conversations and even mock interviews with the volunteers.

BMO Harris employees also lent their expertise during Cristo Rey’s annual March interview weekend, helping our families complete time-sensitive financial aid applications. Each year, 100% of families applying to Cristo Rey request financial aid toward the $2,950 family contribution toward the cost of education. This year, the average freshman family of five earns only $35,729, necessitating over $600,000 in direct financial aid disbursements. Together with BMO Harris Bank employee volunteers, who contributed their time for a portion of the weekend, our families navigate the application process and receive the support they need to join the Cristo Rey community.

These opportunities stemmed from BMO Harris employees’ initial support for our student scholarships. Since their first fundraising effort in 2010, the BMO Harris Bank’s Latino Alliance Employee Resource Group has raised over $30,000 in scholarship funds through hundreds of donations from employees. Last year’s graduating BMO Harris Scholar even received a surprise visit at graduation from Latino Alliance representatives bearing flowers and well-wishes for her transition to college! Last month, we joined the BMO Harris Latino Alliance in kicking off the fundraising effort for this year’s scholarship campaign at their annual Hispanic Heritage Month event.

Complementing its community involvement with Cristo Rey, BMO Harris Bank also launched a new mobile-friendly, Spanish language website, providing Spanish-language resources for personal finance decisions. Together, these efforts creatively engage the Cristo Rey community at multiple levels and serve as an example of the many ways Cristo Rey welcomes its corporate partners to get involved in our school, in addition to hiring students.

Stay tuned for another Voices of Cristo Rey post tomorrow from Saul Becerra Hernandez, a Cristo Rey Jesuit Twin Cities graduate who was a student worker at BMO Harris Bank and now attends Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, a Cristo Rey University Partner. He shares that his experience at BMO Harris Bank motivated him to carry himself professionally. 

“A CEO at the branch told me to always carry your brand with you. If you work alongside someone that tells you about their problems and what they did this weekend. When you become manager you will likely  hire another person who barely spoke about their life  but did their job right. So I carry my brand in everything I say, and  do.”

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