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Providing Mentorship

November 2, 2022
Cardinal Bridge Academy Students

In Spring 2022, mentors from Yum! Brands worked with Cardinal Bridge Academy (CBA) students from the Academy at Shawnee to teach them about various professional topics, including effective communication, teamwork, emotional intelligence, innovation, and networking. Yum’s involvement stems from the company’s Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, a $100 million commitment made in 2020, which aims to tackle inequality through equity and inclusion, education, and entrepreneurship in the communities in which it serves. Regular sessions helped develop deep and meaningful connections between mentors and mentees by providing a range of hands-on activities and one-on-one meetings. 

“Some speakers come, speak, and we never hear from them again. I liked that these mentors came back multiple times and how they took the time to get to know us and provide ways to stay in contact with them,” Shawnee student Mercella Carter said. “The mentors could’ve gone anywhere, but they came to Shawnee. I really appreciated that.” 

When asked what he learned from the mentoring sessions, junior Corey Garner said, “I learned that employers are looking for hardworking and dedicated people to help their businesses. Having this type of information is going to help me find success with my future employers.” 

Kelly Schmidt, Director of Digital Recruiting and HR Operations at Yum! Brands served as a mentor and echoed similar sentiments regarding enjoying the reoccurring opportunities for connections. “I liked that it was an ongoing experience where I really got to know the students…I feel like I got to build relationships and understand who each of the students were as individuals. I also enjoyed being able to teach them skills that they can take away and use in a future career.” While the students gained much from the sessions, the mentors also learned valuable lessons. “I gained so much joy by working with the students,” said Kelly. “My time spent with them was a great way to break up my day and to do something good. I highly recommend becoming a mentor. You’ll get to meet some great kids, and even if you only have an impact on one student, it could leave a long-term and life-changing impact on that student. It is very rewarding.”

Kat Abner, Social Purpose Program Manager at Yum! Brands, also worked as a mentor. She was impressed with the students from Shawnee. “Being a mentor is a gift. You will gain so much from the students—perspective on what life is like for a different generation and a deeper understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. Also, most importantly, you are giving back by encouraging young people along their personal and professional journeys.” 

The CBA will be expanding its mentoring program throughout JCPS schools during the 2022-23 school year. We are looking for talented and service-oriented people to serve as mentors. If you are ready to make a difference in a student’s life by serving as a mentor, tutor, or sponsor, please contact us at