American Marketer


Ritz-Carlton backs First Lady’s bid for corporate youth mentoring

February 3, 2011

The Ritz-Carlton mentors youth


Luxury hotel chain Ritz-Carlton has partnered with America’s Promise Alliance to participate in mentoring programs to support troubled youth.

The First Lady Michelle Obama announced Jan. 25 the Corporate Mentoring Challenge during her “Achieving Academic and Social Success: Supporting Youth through Mentoring” address. This is the Ritz-Carlton's move to take part in the program.

Ritz-Carlton has been participating in a White House Mentoring Summit and in advance of last week's announcement by the First Lady Michelle Obama to launch the Corporate Mentoring Challenge, Ritz-Carlton Hotels was proud to be invited by the White House to sign on as one of the inaugural corporate members,” said Sue Stephenson, vice president of community footprints at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., Chevy Chase, Maryland.

“The goal of the Corporate Mentoring Challenge is to launch, expand or provide financial backing for mentoring programs to support at-risk young students,” she said.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. launched its Succeed Through Service program in 2009 with America’s Promise Alliance.

Community footprints

Succeed Through Service was created to bring inspiration and to engage young students through career exploration, life skills training and community service-learning projects.

The properties of Ritz-Carlton across the U.S. partner with schools in their community to deliver modules in the classroom to at-risk students.

The students are taught by Ritz-Carlton employees. The employees take the students on field-trips to the hotels and resorts.


The Ritz-Carlton Community Footprints Web site

Students are instilled with social skills, etiquette, environmental responsibility, safe food handling, healthy eating habits and the power of teamwork. The curriculum provides youngsters vision potential careers following high school graduation.

For the service-learning module of Succeed Through Service, students select a meaningful community project that focuses on hunger and homelessness, child literacy or environmental conservation. The projects are designed to teach the children civic responsibility as they work together to identify and help address a need in their community, according to Ms. Stephenson.

“The service-learning projects culminate in a celebration event at our properties around the world to coincide with Global Youth Service Day in April of each year,” she said.

Luxury and cause

Supporting a cause is a tactic used by marketers for years. However, many luxury brands have recently jumped on board to promote events and causes.

For example, Maserati annually donates $2 million in scholarships to qualifying students (see story).

In the past, Italian luxury brand Gucci has partnered with UNICEF to launch annual campaigns where the percentage of sales for special items is donated to the cause.

Supporting a cause is smart to incorporate into marketing strategies. Affluent consumers actively engage with brand campaigns that support a good cause.

“As part of Community Footprints, our Ritz-Carlton social responsibility program, Succeed Through Service was created to help address the drop-out crisis by engaging young students through career exploration, life skills training and community service-learning projects,” Ms. Stephenson said.

“The well-being of children is one of three areas of focus for our Community Footprints efforts: hunger and poverty relief, well-being of children and environmental conservation,” she said. “We are very proud of the impact the Succeed Through Service program has on the over 2,700 young students we partner with each year.”

Final take
Partners in Literacy: Ritz-Carlton and the Boys and Girls clubs