Reed Smith is the first law firm in Chicago to formally engage in the CFF School Partnership Program. The partnership advances Reed Smith’s core values and Racial Equity Action Plan, a firmwide priority launched in 2020 focusing on advancing the interests of Black attorneys and staff that also includes pro bono and community engagement to promote justice system reform, economic opportunity, and defense against discrimination.
“When our communities thrive, we thrive,” said Peter Ellis, Reed Smith partner and litigation department chair and member of the CFF board. “By building an ongoing relationship with students, teachers and families at Tilden, we hope to positively influence students to advance their educations and create greater exposure to careers in the law and beyond. Our goal is to help expand the program by encouraging other Chicago law firms and businesses to commit to partnering with CFF and with other Chicago schools.
Through the partnership, Reed Smith will provide a substantial annual financial commitment to support the school’s budget, initiate new programs, and enhance existing programs, including the arts, STEM, after-school enrichment, and resources to support student health and emotional well-being. The partnership, which extends for three years, includes in-kind donations for back-to-school drives, classroom supplies, teacher appreciation, holiday meals and gifts, and a variety of other essential items. In addition, attorneys and staff will engage with students and families through a variety of programs, including tutoring, mentoring, and career days at the Reed Smith office, attending sporting events and graduation, pro bono services and resume writing for parents, and meeting with school administrators and teachers to identify future opportunities and emerging needs.
According to Johanna Wheaton Dutt, CFF’s director of Major Gifts, the School Partnership Program allows collaboration between the schools and corporate partners to develop meaningful programs and efforts to support the most pressing needs of each individual school. CFF is seeking partners for 19 schools to promote access and opportunity for students.
“Reed Smith has such an authentic interest in being a part of the School Partnership Program,” Wheaton Dutt said. “Knowing the community is there for you is really powerful for our students. This program is mutually beneficial to our partners as well, by providing an opportunity to have a positive, long-term impact and engage personally with the community.”
Over the summer, the Reed Smith Chicago office formed a working group of attorneys and staff to plan initial activities and is encouraging participation by all Chicago personnel in various upcoming projects and activities at the school. With Chicago Public Schools starting earlier this year, this type of coordination and support is essential to getting the school year off to a strong start.
“We are excited to launch this partnership with Tilden High School and CFF,” said Matt Petersen, Chicago office managing partner and working group member. “The firm’s core values include intentional engagement with and relationships with our communities. The School Partnership Program allows us so many opportunities to have a lasting impact on our own community.”
The kick-off event for the partnership is an opportunity to participate in the school’s morning cheer line to welcome students back to school Aug. 22-24, and to assist in assembling swag bags for students.
About Children First Fund
Children First Fund (CFF), the Chicago Public Schools Foundation, is the philanthropic and partnership arm of Chicago Public School (CPS). It serves as a knowledge hub and liaison between CPS and its community of partners, securing and organizing resources that advance CPS’ mission to provide a high-quality public education that prepares every child in every neighborhood for success in college, career, and civic life. For more information, please visit childrenfirstfund.org or find us on social @ChiFirstFund.
About Reed Smith
Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. With an inclusive culture and innovative mindset, we deliver smarter, more creative legal services that drive better outcomes for our clients. Our deep industry knowledge, long-standing relationships and collaborative structure make us the go-to partner for complex disputes, transactions, and regulatory matters.
For more information, please visit www.reedsmith.com.