On June 12, WilmerHale celebrated the 15th anniversary of its Youth and Education Initiative (YEI), a unique and highly effective philanthropy model that brings attorneys and staff together as volunteers and contributes financial support, pro bono legal representation, volunteer service and in-kind donations to a select group of nonprofit partners to make a decisive impact on issues facing our local communities.
Nearly 100 guests helped the firm celebrate this milestone at an evening reception held in the firm's Boston office, including WilmerHale attorneys and staff, representatives from community partner organizations, and 40 alumni from the Summer Leadership Institute (SLI)-a program that is part of the firm's YEI and offers students employment and learning opportunities each summer. Among those in attendance were Dr. Oscar Santos, headmaster of Cathedral High School; Pat Kirby, executive director of Citizen Schools Massachusetts; Lissy Medvedow, executive director of Discovering Justice; Yi Chin Chen, deputy director of Hyde Square Task Force; and Brian Buckley and Tom Walsh, Roxbury Latin School teachers who lead academic courses at the firm during the SLI program.
Over the course of 15 years, the YEI has contributed to its community partner organizations nearly $5 million in cash donations and millions more in pro bono legal services. In addition, 800 Boston-based lawyers and staff have directly served more than 1,200 local youth in a variety of ways, from assisting more than 600 Cathedral High School students during college essay workshops to coaching 360 middle school students through a mock trial program with Discovering Justice and Citizen Schools and serving 120 Hyde Square Task Force students through career exploration workshops.
Of the more than 100 students the firm has hired as SLI interns through its community partner organizations, 100% have graduated from high school. Of the 92 active alumni, 85% have gone on to schools such as Smith College, Boston College, Bates College and the University of Massachusetts, and programs such as Year Up and trade schools. Alumni of the firm's YEI are now successful in the fields of physics, medicine, law, marketing, education and social services.