TMA NYC Invests in Washington Heights Students

June 21, 2022

TMA Cares, the agency’s volunteering and community support initiative, exists to help educate, inspire, and mobilize our employees to give back. Our New York City office has been leading the way with the incredible work they’ve been doing with WHEELS in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

TMA Cares NYC has been investing in the students of WHEELS for several years in a variety of ways, so we sat down with Cory DeWeese and Kasey Satterley, who lead this partnership, to learn more.

What exactly is WHEELS?

Cory: WHEELS stands for Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, which is a Pre-K through 12th grade school located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The school’s mission is to work with families to prepare each student academically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially to succeed in the college of their choice and beyond. 99% of WHEELS high school graduates are accepted to college with a 90% 4-Year graduation rate for class of 2019. Plus, 75% of alumni are enrolled or have graduated from a degree-granting postsecondary institution, compared with just 36.6% of Hispanics aged 18-24 nationally.

How did TMA Cares get involved with WHEELS?

Cory: TMA Cares was introduced to WHEELS through the “Principal for the Day” program that fellow TMA employee, Robert Familetti, volunteered with back in 2019. As a result, we began a relationship with Friends of WHEELS, an organization that helps support and fundraise for the school. Recently, Friends of WHEELS rebranded to Futures Ignite to expand their reach and bring the program to other schools in the area.

Could you tell us about what TMA does with WHEELS?

Cory: We have partnered with WHEELS and Futures Ignite in a variety of ways throughout the years. To name a few, we do annual career days, which can be either in person or virtually, and we introduce WHEELS students to the multiple career paths within the marketing agency world that they may not have ever been exposed to. We also do social media and SEO coaching to provide information, strategy, best practices, and content reviews so that they can enhance their marketing efforts on their own, in a sustainable way. We worked with them on branding and creative to help develop the overall approach for their 2021 Virtual WHEELS Up Gala, we helped with fundraising and donations for their annual galas and COVID relief, which ended up being over $5K in two years. I have personally gotten the opportunity to sit on the board and be a part of the rebranding efforts from Friends of WHEELS to Futures Ignite. Lastly, we have participated in a work-based learning program in which we hosted two students over a nine-week period (in-office and virtually) with the goal of providing hands-on career experience to nurture their career interests and connect one-on-one with a supervisor.

What has been your favorite experience with WHEELS/Futures Ignite?

Cory: Of course I love getting to know the kids and seeing them excel. However, it’s the longevity that I’m so excited about; being able to support this program year after year, it really lets you see the impact we are making. 

Kasey: This is a tough one. I’ve really enjoyed everything we’ve partnered with WHEELS/Futures Ignite on. Recently, we were a part of a career panel, which I found to be really exciting. The students asked very thought-provoking questions about our career paths that I didn’t even think of previously! There we multiple panelists from different industries that gave different viewpoints on how each of us got to where we are now. I loved hearing what the students’ future plans were and was impressed that many of them already had an idea. I wish we had a program like this when I was younger!

How do you feel working with WHEELS students has impacted you personally?

Cory: I am so grateful for my time with the kids from WHEELS/Futures Ignite. It keeps me grounded, reminds me to be patient, and has opened my eyes to the inequities that still exist in our country’s education system.

Kasey: It’s been so inspiring to see the motivation and aspirations of the students. They are all very driven and are eager to learn and soak up as much real-world knowledge as possible. They’re going to be doing great things, and already are!

What has working with WHEELS/Futures Ignite students taught you?

Cory: Making real change and real impact can happen one-on-one, it does not have to be a giant event or millions of dollars in donations. Personal connections and consistent Involvement will make sustainable improvements.

Kasey: Their thirst for knowledge has made me reflect on my career path and motivates me to keep learning, always ask questions, and continue networking. They’ve taught me to always get involved and challenge the status quo. WHEELS is doing so many great things outside of the classroom that impact their community, and I am so encouraged to get into my own neighborhood and get even more involved.

Does TMA Cares have anything planned with WHEELS for the future?

Cory: Absolutely! We are excited to continue to support WHEELS through Futures Ignite, but also help Futures Ignite to expand to other schools and spread the positive impact on more students in the area. We maintain consistent contact with our friends there and are always willing to jump in when a need or event arises, but also work with them to come up with exciting programs as well.

A huge thank you to our amazing TMA Cares NYC/Stamford crew for all you do in the community! Learn more about WHEELS here.

Cory DeWeese is Director of People, based in our New York City office. Kasey Satterley is Director of Account Management, also out of TMA NYC. In addition to leading the WHEELS partnership, they serve as co-leads of TMA Cares at the agency level. Big kudos to Cory and Kasey for all they do to help TMA give back and serve our communities!