While students at Dallas ISD’s T.C. Marsh Preparatory Academy were enjoying a day off to go to the State Fair of Texas on Oct. 16, 230 employees from Fidelity Investments were hard at work on their campus.
When students returned to school on Oct. 20, they found newly painted college and university logos on the doors to the school’s portable classrooms, directional signs pointing to institutions of higher learning and stepping stones featuring college logos. There are also new benches painted in the school’s yellow and black colors. The entrance to the school features a new desk and reception area to greet visitors.
Much of the work was designed to highlight college readiness and encourage students to think now on their futures after high school. But rather than a one-time project, the day was an extension of a six-year partnership between Marsh and Fidelity.
“We think the most important thing is developing relationships,” said Scott Orr, vice president of Public Affairs for Fidelity. He noted that every week, Fidelity employees visit Marsh to teach classes on financial literacy.
The directional college signs represent the alma maters of Fidelity employees who were visiting from out of state. They toured Marsh as part of their visit in Dallas. The signs, Orr said, include some little-known institutions far from Texas.
One out-of-state Fidelity employee was working alongside those from Texas. Pam Norley, executive vice president of Fidelity’s Financial Services, was rolling paint onto lockers, which were made to look like the spines of textbooks. Norley is based in Boston
Marsh Principal Nikki Niewinski is in her third year at the school. She said in addition to working directly with students, Fidelity also provides support in helping fund transportation for field trips. One of those trips is to the Fidelity campus in Westlake. The corporate campus also hosts an annual ball for the Marsh Leadership Cade Corps.
“It’s not just today. It’s a real educational partnership,” Niewinski said. “They provide kids with experiences that as a district we could not afford to offer them.”
Marsh, which has more than 1,000 students in grades 6-8, is just one of 14 schools Fidelity has adopted across the country.