Story 11 – The Power of Possible

This story comes from Tony Neuman, Marketing Communications Manager at Cargill:

One of the most powerful and engaging experiences in my career began at a meeting in 2010 between Cargill’s volunteer committee and BestPrep. This story demonstrates Power of Possible. Let me explain.

Bob Kaitz and Laura Marvin of BestPrep were invited to tell our committee more about BestPrep’s programs, with a focus on eMentors. Based on that, our business decided to start an eMentor connection and I found myself compelled to help lead the effort. As the first person in my family to go to college, and having gone to a resource-constrained inner city high school (go South High Tigers!), BestPrep’s mission spoke to me and I immediately understood the value BestPrep could bring to today’s youth.

Our first class was with 13 students at Mound-Westonka High School, and I found it hard to fill that initial class with volunteers. However, the Power Of Possible provided a hidden opportunity. By having to do 1:1 recruiting for these volunteer roles, I was able to hand-pick the people I thought would be strong mentors. This proved successful as many mentors are still in the program today!


Based on our initial success, we grew to 25 eMentor connections that spring, and by the next year our one business unit had taken on mentoring 2-3 classes every semester. From there, we started looking down a couple of different paths to expand the program and the team at BestPrep helped me see the Power of Possible when you listen wholly and enable others.

The first path was obvious; grow eMentors outside of our one business unit in our company. BestPrep’s team helped guide me and learn best practices, and based on that we developed our “franchisee” approach where my role became recruiting leaders who would run an eMentor class that I then supported. This allowed a rapid growth of eMentors at Cargill to over 250 connections the next school year.

The second path was less obvious… and almost never happened. During a meeting with Bob and other BestPrep staff to talk about Cargill’s upcoming eMentor connections with the AVID program at Cooper High School, I had an idea. Though, I was sure it had been done before and given how much sense it made to me I almost didn’t bring it up. But some helpful prodding from Bob made me spit it out. My idea was that since Cargill was planning on financially supporting student scholarships for BestPrep’s Minnesota Business Venture program, asked “Why don’t we tie that funding to the school we are eMentoring?” Bob and his team lit up and said “We love it! And no one has ever thought of that before.” From there the Power Of Possible was put to work and we created a way to not only launch this idea, but to look each year at ways to build and make it stronger.

My colleagues and I support BestPrep because we believe in the organization, but BestPrep has given me so much more. Through their entrepreneurial drive and willingness to always listen and engage with me, they’ve consistently shown me what happens when you put the Power Of Possible to work.

Congratulations to BestPrep for 40 great years, and thank you for all the gifts you’ve given me and other volunteers who have had the privilege to work with you!

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