The Luxottica Mentoring Program was established in 2001 during a time of social unrest in Cincinnati. The founding vision was to inspire urban youth by exposing them to an atmosphere outside of their everyday world through an innovative corporate mentoring initiative that would create the next generation of leaders.
Each year, 45 students from Withrow University High School come to the Luxottica Corporate office from September to May where they are matched with Luxottica employees who take on the roles of mentors. To date, there have been over 550 students in the program. The program is a four-year commitment from the student and the employee. For those graduating seniors who meet required program criteria, two scholarships and refurbished laptops are available.
Luxottica is committed to creating change in the community, at a local and global level. To make this kind of change you need great partners like Cincinnati Youth Collaborative (CYC). CYC is the subject matter expert in tutoring and mentoring vulnerable students and has been a guiding force in the success of the program. Their mission, vision, and values perfectly align with who we are as a global company and our efforts to be the change we want to see in the world. Our partnership has been recognized on the national level, receiving the 2014 National Corporate Mentoring Challenge Recognition as “Most Robust and Comprehensive Engagement, Local Community Mentoring Program.”
My name is Joe Mathis and I work as a small & mid-market sales rep for EyeMed Vision Care, a division of Luxottica Retail North America. I’ve been with the company since 2009 and joined the Luxottica Mentoring Program in 2010, just as soon as I was made aware of the opportunity. I love the setup and the uniqueness of the program and the way that it gives these fabulous groups of aspiring young adults the opportunity to see and experience things they wouldn’t normally be able to.
Every month during the school year, the 45 participating students are bussed to Luxottica’s corporate headquarters in Mason, Ohio. We provide a catered meal, and over the meal we have time to talk and catch up on what’s been happening in our lives. This is the perfect time to make a personal connection with the student.
I’ve seen one mentee through the program in its entirety. That first mentee came in as a pretty shy but opinionated young man. It has been amazing to see his growth over the years and to see how our relationship grew beyond the monthly mentoring meetings. You never know what impact you might have on someone. I always tried to impart words of wisdom and at the same listen to what he was really saying. After a while, I realized that the listening may have been the most powerful gift I could give, that often he just wanted to know that he was being heard and valued. I am now working with my second mentee, who presents some of the same challenges of shyness and quietness. I know that as the relationship grows we’ll be able to get beyond that. I know that together we will work toward the greater goal of developing ourselves into better men.
Being a part of the Luxottica Mentoring Program makes me appreciate Luxottica for being such a great corporate citizen. Luxottica has been impacting lives for the last 14 years through this program. They’ve also made a huge investment in the future by providing laptops to every student. This has helped redesign the curriculum and push the limits of today’s educators even further.
As a young man that grew up in the inner city I’ve always wanted to do my part in “giving back” – the Luxottica Mentoring Program has really allowed me to do that. Oftentimes you start out thinking you’re the one with lessons to impart, not even realizing that if you’re really open to it, you will learn just as much.
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