New Jersey Needs You

Creating the Next Generation of Business Leaders

Lekendrick, 21, is pursuing a finance degree at New Jersey City University. Born and raised in Jersey City, Lekendrick wanted to run his own business at a young age. As he recalled, "I would always share my entrepreneurial ideas with those around me — a fairly rough part of the city — and everyone in my neighborhood affectionately referred to me as a businessman." Lekendrick is the first member of his family to attend college.

As such, he faces long odds. Nearly 50 percent of students like him drop out of college. And those who are fortunate to graduate on average earn 10 percent less than their peers when they enter the workforce.

To help reverse this trend, we are the lead corporate sponsor of New Jersey Needs You, a non-profit organization that offers a two-year professional development and mentorship program to prepare first-generation college students for academic and career success. Goldman Sachs provides financial support and programming space to New Jersey Needs You. Several of our people donate their time by serving on its boards, as mentors, and one served as its founding executive director.

Goldman Sachs hosted New Jersey Needs You’s first workshop in October 2012. Attended by Newark mayor Cory Booker and Jersey City mayor Jerramiah Healy, the launch event helped 25 students begin to develop the skills and networks they will need to succeed in the workforce. "Great working-class people who rose through the ranks," Lekendrick said about the New Jersey Needs You mentors at the launch event. "Ultimately for me, that’s where I would like to be." Several months later, Lekendrick excitedly called his Goldman Sachs mentor to share the news that he accepted an offer to intern at Goldman Sachs for the summer.

New Jersey Needs You is just one of the many mentoring programs that Goldman Sachs supports in the Tri-State area. More than 100 employees volunteer for iMentor, an organization that helps young people succeed in high school and college, with 94 percent of our colleagues reporting that being a mentor was a positive experience and 100 percent of mentors feeling they have a better understanding of the challenges low-income youth face on their path to graduating from high school. Another of these programs is Student Sponsor Partners (SSP). Since its inception in 1986, we have pledged and given nearly $7 million, and more than 740 of our employees have volunteered time and support.

"SSP students are academically, socially and financially underserved young adults, but over 85 percent graduate high school in contrast to just 61 percent for their nonparticipating peers. Some even return to mentor other students in need," says Lora Robertson, Goldman Sachs partner and current SSP board member. "This virtuous cycle is also mirrored by the commitment of our employees. In fact, Goldman Sachs partner and colleague Colleen Foster originally got me involved in the program." Both Goldman Sachs partners Colleen Foster and Pete Lyon also serve as SSP financial sponsors and on the organization’s board of directors.

Photo courtesy The Jersey Journal